Spring Looks Promising as RE Inventory Grows in Southern California

It’s been two years since the investor fueled run-ups began in the spring of 2013 – a surge in activity that would ultimately skyrocket prices at a rate, and to a level unseen in years. Since then, the market has been relatively stale – while its course has changed throughout time, things just haven’t picked up like they had that spring, largely due to the fact that owner occupants have yet to fully fill those investors’ shoes.

There are many reasons why this hasn’t happened, but for the first time in two years supply might not be one of them – or at least as significant of one. Recently, new research has come forward that suggests that inventory is expanding in SoCal – a change which could drive our market forward this spring.

Market watchers and real estate agents say they’re starting to see more sellers as prices remain relatively high, interest rates stay low and fewer borrowers owe more on their houses than they’re worth. The number of homes listed for sale in February climbed 9% in Los Angeles County from a year earlier, according to data from the California Assn. of Realtors, and the time it would take to sell every house on the market was at its highest level in three years.

“Supply is not an issue right now, not like it was,” said Rich Simonin, chief executive of Westcoe Realtors in Riverside. “It’s not a problem.”

That’s a shift from the last few years, when many sellers held their homes off the market and bidding wars were common for the rare well-priced listing. More supply should help keep prices in check, economists say, and coupled with an improving economy could help fuel a broad recovery in the region’s housing market over the next few months.

But so far the housing market has been in a slump.

Home sales in the six-county Southland fell 2.7% in February from a year earlier, according to figures out Tuesday from CoreLogic DataQuick; it was the 15th time in 17 months that sales have fallen. Although the region’s median sale price of $415,000 was up 8.4% compared with February 2013, it has been basically flat since last summer, when it plateaued as many buyers hit a ceiling for what they could afford.

Do you think that the increasing inventory will drive more buyers onto the market? Is this the push needed get the market back on track? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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