“They want to participate in the recovery by holding on to their property longer,” surmised Yun on why sellers are reluctant to list.
Fear is clearly a factor, as is negative equity. Between 11 and 12 million borrowers still owe more on their homes than they can sell them for, and many more borrowers in a near negative equity position; that means they can’t get enough equity out of their homes to cover the Realtor fees and the moving costs, nor to put down on a new home. That’s why the market is ripe for first time buyers, but they are not stepping up either, at just 34 percent of purchases. In a normal market, they would make up 45 percent. That, again, is part fear, but largely tight credit.
Mortgages may be cheap, but they are not easy.
The supply situation has gotten so bad in Northern Virginia that the Realtors there launched a new campaign this week titled, “Ask Me,” trying to get potential sellers to contact agents to find out, “Is it the right time for me to sell or buy a home?”
The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, in the release, claims there is less than 2 months’ supply of available homes for sale in the market, a 37 percent drop from a year ago. Unemployment is trending down, and sellers have been able to get 97 percent of their list price, according to NVAR. The Realtors there are literally begging for more supply.
This supply situation proves just how tenuous and unique the current housing recovery is. It is heavily dependent on investor activity, not real, organic buying, selling and moving up. An investor purchase registers one sale, but a regular sale represents at least two, as the seller will likely buy another home, and so on and so on. Investors are certainly necessary to clear all the distress left over from the housing crash, but until we see not just more sales but more sellers out in the market, the housing recovery will remain in low gear.
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