October 2020 housing data - still super-low inventory, still rising prices

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 19, 2020 - 10:01pm
I wanted to being by noting this article from the great Calculated Risk. It discusses the relationship between months-of-inventory and short-term price changes, and includes a scatter graph between the two. It was this idea from CR that inspired the San Diego version that's become central to the monthly updates here:

(To quickly explain this graph: the red line is the monthly change in the SD Case-Shiller index; the blue line is months of inventory, but inventory is inverted to make the relationship more clear).

This did a pretty good job of mapping the relationship between inventory and prices through the bust and initial recovery, but early in the teens the lines began to drift apart. Pigg reader gzz offered a theory: the arrival of online real estate portals (Redfin etc) sped up the inventory throughput cycle, changing the "equilibrium" amount of inventory in a balanced market. Previously, the equilibrium inventory (the level at which prices were stable) was about 6 months. More recently, it's been closer to 2 1/3 months.

With this adjustment for a faster moving real estate market, months of inventory has done a really good job of calibrating where we are on supply vs. demand (and thus, upward vs. downward price pressure).

Looking at October, it appears that prices have overshot for the month, and so may moderate a bit in the months to come. But generally the level of inventory is quite low... in fact, the following longer term chart shows that months of inventory is the lowest of the decade, even lower than the 2013 meltup.

Notwithstanding an adjusmtent to last month's price overshoot, this level of inventory argues for price further increases in the near term.

Graph-fest below...

(category: )

Submitted by gzz on November 20, 2020 - 3:29pm.

What great news!

My zip of 92107 is at 0.45 months of MLS inventory.

I enjoy CR’s high frequency economic indicators.


The old fashioned version:


His hotel figure is too optimistic in that it has the occupancy rate, not revenue, and only hotels that didn’t close. Right now there’s a mass default by hotels on their very underwater mortgages.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.