Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Other measures of Los Angeles beach cities market activity, April 2008

Shorewood has published its April statistics.

According to the realty firm, the average April DOM for sales in the four beach cities was 69, which is the highest DOM for April since I've started keeping track of Shorewood's DOM numbers back to July 2004. Again, DOM is showing an unusual pattern. During the spring, it normally dips, and that's not really happening. Yet Shorewood doesn't really discuss it.

My calculation of average DOM for just Redondo Beach in April came in at 152 days, which is about 5 months.

Now let's look at Supply Strength (Demand Weakness). It is coming down. Now look at the last time it came down in a big way. We have to keep in mind that for this chart I use Shorewood's own official numbers, not my own estimates. Last year when the official inventory count shrank, that didn't exactly lead to a booming recovery, did it? So I wouldn't interpret any decline yet as a sign of a recovery. We are a long way from that.

Shorewood probably defines *inventory* as whatever is currently listed. When inventory shrinks, Shorewood calls that *good*. I, on the other hand, am assuming we are in one hellacious downturn. So when I see inventory drop, I build another assumption upon my bear market assumption - inventory dropped because home sellers who didn't sell their homes and didn't relist have set aside the idea of selling their homes. They have exited the stage, relegated to the roles of understudies. In other words, there are frustrated wannabe sellers out there who aren't even listing their houses right now because of market conditions.

What evidence do I have that my assumptions could have merit? Well, of the 185 listings I currently have in my database of properties that were either listed or marked down in May (this month), some 28% were originally listed five months ago or longer. Of all the 1000+ unresolved records in my database (not just the ones that are newly listed or price-reduced in May), some 10% of them were first listed in 2006. Another 17% were listed from the beginning of last year up until a year ago (late May).

Even if, say, 25% of the 1000+ unresolved records in my database were resolved, that would still put my database showing some 40% more inventory than what is currently listed in Zip Realty.

Anyway, back to inventory versus sales. It's been coming down. I don't anticipate inventory to sales getting tight like it did around March 2007, and certainly not tight like it did in the late spring of 2005. We'll see.

Now, beach cities median price. It actually moved up, by some 9.1%, to $1,050,000. The price pattern is quite jagged. Even though the median price was up from March, it is still below the peaks reached in September 2007 and January 2008.

I don't know if I've explained before, but I am starting to wonder if there could be some manipulation in the sales figures. Units at Breakwater have been selling. These are lower end senior condos. The sales of these would pull down the median price in Redondo Beach even more than its been showing. Some local realtors even pointed that out in an article in March. I cannot find sales records recorded either in the local papers or in Zillow. The only reason I know about any sales at all is because Zip Realty shows about 35 (out of 190+ units) sold. Neither square footage nor sales prices are recorded in Zip Realty, and as I've said they aren't recorded anywhere else at all yet.

It's difficult to tell whether Redondo Beach is exerting any gravitational pull downwards on the median price. This is one month, where, unusually, the Redondo Beach chart from DataQuick data and the beach cities chart differ in price direction.


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