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Mantecas housing inventory creeps up
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So how does the Manteca housing market compare to other California regions and metro areas across the country in terms of its vitality?

There are a lot of factors that go into making each market different plus prices vary widely but there is one yard-stick that reflects how well a market is facing - inventory.

Manteca as of Monday had 252 resale homes available. There have been 347 existing homes sold in 2011 through Monday. That reflects 3.4 home deals closing each day on average. Multiply that by 30 days and you have an inventory absorption rate that reflects a sales pace that reflects a supply of housing matched against demand of 2.47 months.

That isn’t bad. In Sacramento based on John Burns Real Estate Consulting statistics it currently would take 3.2 months to sell the current listed inventory. That figure is 4.7 months in Las Vegas, 5.9 months in Los Angeles, 7.1 months in Miami, 10.3 months in Chicago, 15.5 months in Nashville, and 16.6 months in New York’s Island.

The news that isn’t as good is the increase inventory over a year ago. Last April there were just over 200 homes available in Manteca. The inventory is up by almost 25 percent as it sat at 252 available homes on Monday. Sacramento’s year-to-year inventory is up 12.7 percent, Las Vegas is up 8.4 percent, Los Angeles is up 8.1 percent Miami is down 25.2 percent, Chicago is down 6.0 percent, Nashville is down 1.6 percent, and Long Island is up 13.3 percent.

The markets where the inventory is down reflect states that have aggressively gone after mortgage firms over improper court filings and where the banks have responded by stopping almost all foreclosures in progress. They are also states where the rules are much more cumbersome for foreclosure proceedings.

In normal times market equilibrium is considered about three months of inventory when neither buyer nor seller has an advantage. Conventional wisdom in such a case would give the advantage to buyers in today’s housing market. That isn’t the case, though unless you are an investor with cash. Realtors are still able to get buyers - including first-timers - into homes that require loans but the process has become more challenging.

The increasing inventory also has put a drag on prices.

The median selling price in 2009 in Manteca when 1,211 existing homes were sold dropped to $178,000 after declining from $420,000 three years prior. It then rebounded 3.9 percent to $185,000 when 1,193 homes were sold in 2010. Now prices a third of the year into 2011 reflect a median of $175,000 for a 5.4 percent drop.

Manteca, unlike many other markets, was able to rebound slightly last year due to high demand. There is somewhat less trepidation here given that many who can qualify to buy today were squeezed out when prices were 60 percent higher just four years ago. Low affordability rates were never a major concern in many markets across the country before the mortgage meltdown hit.

The big wild card is just how many homes out there are in the so-called “shadow inventory” where banks have yet to formally foreclose even though the owners are significantly behind on payments.

Even so an uptick in foreclosures this time around would have a somewhat smaller impact on the Manteca market than many others. But then again, prices since 2006 have dropped more in terms of percentage loss than in most other parts of the country with glaring exceptions such as Detroit.

The bottom line: Given the fact renting and buying are virtually the same in terms of monthly costs in many housing categories in Manteca and rental vacancies are showing signs of dropping, it is a good time to buy unless, of course, you plan to move in the next three years or so.