Housing shortage concerns; supply and demand

by Dan Krell © 2012

New HomesExactly two years ago, I wrote about the possibility of a housing shortage. In February 2010, Montgomery County’s housing inventory of homes for sale hit a two year low and was almost cut in half from the previous year; most likely due to a respite in the foreclosure tsunami. However, home inventories remained relatively low through 2011; as some looked forward to a renewed seller’s market, if not a balanced market.

So here we are in February 2012, and home inventory in the county is just about where it was in 2006- which is the consensus peak of the housing market. You might think that because home inventories are at a five year low, it might be a good time to jump into the market and list your home for sale.

Not so fast. Consider that the average time it took to sell a home during the peak of the market was no more than two months; much sooner in many cases. However, the current average time on the market is almost 30% longer today than what it was at the peak; much longer in many cases. Additionally, even though home inventory is similar to the peak market, the number of units sold compared to that time is about half; and keep in mind the average home sale price continues to fall.

For a home owner thinking of selling their home, it’s still a precarious market regardless of the reduced inventories. Although eager home buyers lament the limited choice of homes for sale, they are still demanding and selective. For home owners preparing their home to sell, the market is still about price and condition; make your home look its best. Keep in mind that about one-third of the home buyers in the market are first-time home buyers looking for their “perfect” home.

As I concluded two years ago, it’s not so much of housing shortage, but rather a market seeking equilibrium. Clearly, a market shift has taken place- but where?

As the number of single family homes listed for sale declines, the number of single family home listed for rent increases- as does the average rent. Supply and demand; another option for home sellers may be renting their home.

Homes for saleThe up side of leasing your home is that you can move on and have cash flow from the rental. To assist in determining an appropriate monthly rent, your Realtor® can provide neighborhood rental data. You should also consult with your accountant to make sure that leasing your home is an option; considerations in calculating rent may include (but is not limited to): tax implications, your mortgage payment, HOA/condo fees, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

Of course, solving one issue opens the door for others; there are disadvantages to renting your home as well. Other considerations might include (but not limited to) daily rental management, what to do if the tenant does not pay, and cost of repairs after the tenant vacates. Also, if you plan to rent your home to buy another home, don’t commit mortgage fraud; your lender may require extensive documentation on the rental – including an established rental history.

Although a balanced housing market may include increased rental inventory; do your due diligence before you decide to rent your home, and make sure it’s right for you.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 20, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

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