4th Qtr. 2011: Slowest Since '08

Posted by Dave Fratello on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 at 10:55pm.

A few times during 2011 we noted that the sales pace was a little above 2010's.

And that wound up true at year end, as we noted yesterday, with 319 SFR sales hitting the MLS citywide, compared to 308 the year before.

But it was also true that Q4 2011 was a bit slower, year over year, than the prior quarters, measured by closed sales.

In fact, the period of Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2011, saw the fewest closed sales since Q4 2008 with 57 in MB overall, and 37 west of Sepulveda. (Click this graphic to enlarge.)

Both the west-of-Sepulveda and citywide totals were down by 13 sales from 2010, and just a little higher than 2007's totals of 52 overall and 33 west of the highway.

Look back further into the bubble years and even before – all the way back to 2000 – and we see that Q4 2011 was the third-weakest of the past 12 years. The three weakest: 1) 2008, 2) 2007, 3) 2011.

The first 6 years of this century were all markedly busier in Q4 – with 74 sales in 2004 citywide, for instance, and a peak of 118 hit twice, in both 2000 and 2001. That's more than twice the number of Q4 sales that we just saw last year, and that was when people actually had to pay interest on mortgages.

So much for the quiet Fall/Winter season. Maybe it's more of a recent invention.

In defense of the local market's performance late last year, it could be said that there's a goodly amount of pent-up demand – frustrated buyers who would help absorb quality product in roughly the $1.5-$2.2m price range. But there ain't much to be had.

Were there to be inventory to satisfy all these buyers in the wings, would we see a minor frenzy in the market? TBD. How many actual buyers are there? We'll begin to find out this Spring.
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