From the NY Times:
The supply of unsold inventory with asking prices under $400,000 was 26 percent greater than at this time last year, according to a new report by the Otteau Valuation Group, which analyzes multiple listing statistics. The time it would take to sell these properties remains, in relative terms, shorter than for the more expensive homes. Yet in absolute terms, the wait for sellers of homes under $400,000 has done nothing but increase.
As for homes priced from $400,000 to $600,000, the supply of unsold inventory was 17 percent greater than at this time last year, according to the report.
At higher price levels, the market situation is mostly better than, or about equivalent to, last year’s: The picture is virtually unchanged for homes priced from $600,000 to $1 million, with an inventory that would take about 16 months to sell at the current pace.
For homes priced from $1 million to $2.5 million the inventory has decreased, but it is still 20 months worth.
The inventory of homes priced over $2.5 million amounted to slightly under five years worth last year at this time; now it is slightly over five years.
In general, it still takes less time to sell lower-priced homes than more expensive ones, said Jeffrey G. Otteau, the president of the New Brunswick-based company that did the research.
The inventory of homes on the market for under $400,000 a total of 44,288 houses, condominiums and co-ops in that category as of March 1 would take an estimated 13.6 months to sell if no additional homes were to be listed, according to the Otteau report.
This is vastly less time than it would take to sell the 3,442 houses with asking prices of $1 million or more.
But the sales picture for lower-priced homes has worsened significantly in the last year. Part of that shift can be ascribed to the vanished tax credit, part to the now-prevalent mortgage lenders requirement of a 20 percent down payment a hurdle that many first-time buyers cannot leap.
At the same point in 2010, there was a 10.9-month supply of lower-priced homes on the market, and sales were 13 percent higher than they are now.
Mr. Otteau described the overall market as having a faint pulse, sapped by weakness in the entry-level housing category the largest price category by far, and the most important factor in a healthy market since it generates move-up buyers in other categories.
For houses ranging from $400,000 to $599,999, the report showed, the situation has also deteriorated since last year. Supply has increased 17 percent statewide, to 14.9 months worth. In some parts of the state, this price category fared even worse in comparison to last year than did the price niche below it.