The term “shadow inventory” hangs over the real estate market, suggesting a thinly veiled catastrophe seen through the mist, just as the passengers of the Titanic watched an iceberg draw closer. However, a white paper written by Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo finds the fear of a shadow inventory overrated.
“The fear … is that the inventory of delinquent and foreclosed loans (will be released onto) an already weakened market,” says Tuccillo. “(But) the reality, even in Florida where distressed properties make up a significant portion of the market, appears to be different.”
Tuccillo says lenders have no reason to flood the real estate market with more homes if doing so would drive prices down and impact the lender’s profit. While some observers worry that lenders were holding back on purpose, Tuccillo says that’s not so – that the large number of distressed properties on hold was “largely the result of confusion over the rules of the game, and thus missteps by the lenders.”
In conducting an analysis, Florida Realtors Research looked at data from MLSs around the state and data provided by CoreLogic, a statistical analysis company.
“We looked at the recent history of distressed property listings and transactions relative to normal market data, as well as estimates for the shadow inventory, and came to some conclusions about the likely course (for the) future,” says Tuccillo.
• Florida remains one of the nation’s hardest hit states for distressed property sales.
• Distressed property sales and listings have declined since late 2010, except for single-family-home short sales.
• Average prices for distressed and normal property sales have been stabilizing.
• In general, Realtors and lenders have learned how to cope with distressed properties in a way that stabilizes the market.
• Florida’s highest percentage of distressed property (compared to total listings) occurs in the I-4 corridor and Southeast Florida; the lowest percentages occur in Northwest Florida.
• Currently, Florida’s shadow inventory was 550,000 units at the end of 2011, a decline of about 9 percent from its peak in the first quarter of 2010.
• Currently, the flow of new seriously delinquent (90 days or more) loans moving into the shadow inventory is offset by the roughly equal flow of distressed sales (short sales and REOs).
• The number of foreclosures and REOs was significantly lower in February of 2012 than one year earlier, suggesting slower shadow inventory growth.
Tuccillo predicts that distressed properties will be a significant feature of the Florida real estate market over the next ten years, but it will be considered just one property type a buyer can consider – one that has its own unique sales techniques and documentation.