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Sellers Wanted: Some Theories About Hub's Low Inventory

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Damn Greater Boston's enduring popularity!

'Tis no secret that the region's inventory of unsold homes on the market is ridiculously low. In some neighborhoods, the time it takes to sell a listed condo, say, can be measured in days, if not hours. That leaves slim pickings for local buyers as the properties left on the market are either too hot or too cold and rarely ever just right. And yet: There are buyers. Home sales in the Hub have spiked time and again in the last 12 to 18 months. You would think, then, that there would be plenty of inventory as these buyers trade up.

However! A Globe piece by Jenifer McKim presents a compelling theory for the low inventory amid brisk sales: "Eric Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, said the relative lack of homes for sale suggests many interested home buyers are coming from outside the area, or are local first-time home buyers or investors. Otherwise, he said, buyers would be selling their existing properties—leaving local inventory relatively unaffected." In other words, buyers aren't selling their Greater Boston home first and then buying another one; they're selling their, say, Baltimore home first and then buying here (or they're renters looking to make to leap).

It's an interesting theory and we all crave some explanation for the madness. But we think the region's anemic pace of residential construction (until recently at least) explains the low inventory to a greater degree, as do the pronouncements coming from the Fed. Why rush to buy (and therefore list your current Hub home) when you've been told interest rates will stay low at least through 2014?
· Local Housing Market Desperately Seeking Sellers [Globe]
· What Is the Boston Condo Market On? [Curbed Boston]
· Boston's Real Estate Cliff [Curbed Boston]
· Our Updated Residential Heatmap: 66 Projects and Counting [Curbed Boston]