The number of homes listed for sale in 18 major metropolitan areas at the end of April was up 7% from March, according to data compiled by ZipRealty Inc., a national real-estate brokerage firm in Emeryville, Calif. The data cover listings of single-family homes, condos and town houses on local multiple-listing services.
The increase was above the seasonal norm. Over the past 22 years, home inventories nationwide have increased an average of 4.5% in April from March, according to Credit Suisse Group. Spring is the busiest time of year for home shopping, as families with children try to get settled ahead of the next school year.
In a report issued yesterday, Ivy Zelman, a Cleveland-based housing analyst for Credit Suisse, said her building-industry contacts have been surprised by the weakness of sales recently, "given the typical seasonal bounce that occurs at this time of year." She added, "Our contacts have officially declared the spring selling season a bust." Many people who had expected a recovery by year end "now believe the market rebound will be pushed out until 2008 at the earliest," Ms. Zelman wrote.
The National Association of Realtors yesterday again lowered its forecast, predicting that sales of previously occupied homes will total 6.29 million, down 2.9% from 2006. A month ago, the trade group projected that sales this year would slip 2.2%. Lawrence Yun, a senior economist for the Realtors, said many speculators have fled the market.
Increasing inventory + weaker sales = lower total sales and lower prices.