For two years, home buyers in the Twin Cities housing market have behaved like medieval kings—looking down upon their vast and glistening kingdom of available homes for sale with a calm and dismissive eye, slowly selecting their properties without hurry or haste. While their reign is not yet over, there are some noticeable cracks in the walls of their castle.
Sellers are not putting homes on the market with anywhere close to the frequency with which they did the last four years. For the week ending April 19, there were only 2,152 new listings, down 19.6 percent from the same week last year. This marks the sixth week in the last seven with a double-digit percentage drop from 2007. The slowdown in buyer activity has also shown signs of abating, as the number of new purchase agreements signed for the week ending April 19 was 893, only 3 units behind the total of 896 seen this week last year. This is the second straight week of relatively flat year-over-year pending sales activity.
However, don't head out and buy that $80,000 Italian sports car you've always wanted just yet. It's important to bear in mind that:
1) foreclosure and short-sale activity is taking up a larger portion of our overall market activity than it did previously, which has the effect of propping these numbers up a bit, and
2) we're still 39.8 percent behind our 2005 sales pace from the end of the boom cycle.
But flattening overall supply (only up 0.4 percent from this time last year) and encouraging trends in sales figures should serve as welcome signs that the market corrections we've experienced in the last two years are taking a turn. Some semblance of order may very well be restored to the "kingdom" in the next year.