Market Analysis: What Do We Really Know About Shadow Inventory?

*What Do We Really Know About Shadow Inventory?*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Estimates about how large the shadow inventory is and how long it will take to dispose of vary. What we know for sure is that the inventory is huge and it will put a crimp in industry recovery for some time. PROGRESS in Lending has learned that according to CoreLogic, the current residential shadow inventory as of October 2011 remained at 1.6 million units, representing a supply of 5 months. This was down from October 2010, when shadow inventory stood at 1.9 million units, or 7-months’ supply, but approximately the same level as reported in July 2011.  Currently, the flow of new seriously delinquent loans into the shadow inventory has been offset by the roughly equal flow of distressed (short and real estate owned) sales. Here’s what else the CoreLogic research revealed:

****CoreLogic estimates the current stock of properties in the shadow inventory, also known as pending supply, by calculating the number of distressed properties not currently listed on multiple listing services (MLSs) that are seriously delinquent (90 days or more), in foreclosure and real estate owned (REO) by lenders. Transition rates of “delinquency to foreclosure” and “foreclosure to REO” are used to identify the currently distressed non-listed properties most likely to become REO properties. Properties that are not yet delinquent but may become delinquent in the future are not included in the estimate of the current shadow inventory. Shadow inventory is typically not included in the official metrics of unsold inventory.

****Data Highlights:

****>> As of October 2011, shadow inventory remained at 1.6 million units, or 5-months’ supply and represented half of the 3 million properties currently seriously delinquent, in foreclosure or in REO.

****>> Of the 1.6 million properties currently in the shadow inventory (Figures 1 and 2), 770,000 units are seriously delinquent (2.5-months’ supply), 430,000 are in some stage of foreclosure (1.4-months’ supply) and 370,000 are already in REO (1.2-months’ supply).

****>> Florida, California and Illinois account for more than a third of the shadow inventory. The top six states, which would also include New York, Texas and New Jersey, account for half of the shadow inventory.

****>> The shadow inventory is approximately four times higher than its low point (380,000 properties) at the peak of the housing bubble in mid-2006.  A healthy housing market should have less than one-month’s supply of shadow inventory, which would be an easily absorbed stock of distressed assets with little or no discernable impact on house prices, unless the inventory was geographically concentrated.

****>> Despite 3 million distressed sales since January 2009, a period when home prices were declining at their fastest rate, the shadow inventory in October 2011 is at the same level as January 2009.

****>> Because shadow inventory is often concentrated in suburban and exurban submarkets, where distressed sales compete with new construction sales, it is one of the reasons why new home sales continue to be weak. In normal times, new home sales account for 12 percent of all sales, but they are currently running at 7 percent of all sales.

****>> Based on current estimates of the visible inventory (both distressed and non-distressed), the shadow inventory is approximately half of all visible inventory listings. For every two homes available for sale, there is one home in the “shadows” (Figure 3).

****“The shadow inventory overhang is a large impediment to the improvement in the housing market because it puts downward pressure on home prices, which hurts home sales and building activity while encouraging strategic defaults,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at