If U.S. real estate inventory is so "overwhelming," where is it all hiding?

While some housing pundits are talking about demand being “overwhelmed by supply” and others are throwing out estimates of an “excess supply” of over 3 million homes, buyers that we are serving across the country keep telling us the same thing over and over this spring: “Selection stinks!”

Worse yet, when they do finally find a home that they want, they often submit an offer only to find that theirs is one of multiple offers that the seller has received—increasingly our agents are reporting bidding wars and multiple offers in numerous markets.

So what’s going on? How can inventory be high but buyers are hitting slim pickings and multiple offers?

For the full report visit the Redfin Research Center.


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  • http://twitter.com/BrandTallDeb BrandTallDeb

    Some interesting data about #Seattle real estate market. Having just bought in January, I ecohed this sentiment! RT @Redfin If US real estate inventory is so “overwhelming,” where's it all hiding? http://bit.ly/lSkExd

  • John Earling

    The other problem is pundits too often talk about “housing supply” without breaking down location and type of housing unit. Markets like Las Vegas and Detroit have lots of vacancies but that does no good to someone who wants to live in Seattle, SF, or the Northeast. Also, single family homes in suburbs and exurbs were seriously overbuilt while units closer to cities, multi-family (condos/townhomes), and rentals are now a greater portion of the demand.

    • http://blog.redfin.com GlennKelman

      I agree, though I think the true shortage is in SFH in core cities. In San Francisco, for example, it has probably been 40 years since anyone has built a new SFH, while condos have proliferated throughout South Beach…

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  • http://theziagroup.com Zia

    Even your pessimistic prediction of the market's upward sales being as “sloth-like increases”  is still hopeful in the way of coming out of this drop at some point in the near future! We here in Santa Barbara, California have also been experiencing multiple offers at a time for a good number of properties and combined with the lowered point of sale on both non-distressed and REO's strongly mirrors what you've described here. These dips and predicted increases are similar to those we're discussing as a community here as well.
    Interesting reading where the rest of the country is at, and beyond belief that we are at historic lows, just tragic.

  • ButchLosbanes

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  • ButchLosbanes

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  • http://www.anitaclarkrealtor.com Anita Clark

    My guess is the “excess” inventory is in the small cities, towns, counties all over the U.S., not in the major markets.  My area, while small in the grand scheme of locales, has over 12 months of available non-foreclosure inventory.  I don't have a multiple offer problem, I have a too many choices for a buyer issue.