Average DOM These Days

Posted by Dave Fratello on Thursday, August 7th, 2008 at 5:53am.

At MBC, it's our view that Days on Market (DOM) is a figure that can matter, quite a bit, in individual transactions, and that this figure also can be an overall measure of market health.

But if you want the data, it's hard to know what's real.

Suffice it to say that the old practices are firmly re-established in MB – DOM data are routinely manipulated through bogus re-listings of properties that have been around the block.

We now accept that fact as a premise of dealing with real estate information locally. Our oft-expressed hope that the merger with Mr. MLS would solve the problem is now dead.

What buyers and sellers both need is some realistic sense of what the new normal is in the DOM realm. How many DOM is "early" or "average" or "high?" Both sides want to know.

MBC's tally as of the end of July, which covers SFRs west of Sepulveda, is displayed in this chart. (Click to enlarge or print.)

The overall west-of-Hwy.-1 average of 99 DOM is better than some of our prior reports, and much better than lots of depressed markets a stone's throw from our town.

Another comparison is less favorable.

A high-priced data-crunching firm, Trendgraphix, Inc., supplies data analysis to local realty firms. We don't have their end-of-July figures, but we do know they reported that MB overall (expanding beyond MBC's coverage of SFRs west of Sepulveda) showed an average of 37 DOM for May 2008.

For that same month, MBC's public market tracking yielded an average 102 DOM for SFRs west of Sepulveda, a difference of 65 DOM. (The MBC figure was not quite triple the Trendgraphix figure.) Given that the MBC coverage area represents between 50%-65% of the MB market for single-family homes, a discrepancy of this magnitude is pretty shocking.

But don't blame the pocket-protector crowd. It's the constant, even casual, resets of DOM clocks that ruin their data. No one is well-served by this except, perhaps, the perpetual cheerleaders who would tell you MB is avoiding the broader housing downturn.

In the last couple of months, we've seen 10% or more of listings cancel for failure to sell. Some were toe-dippers who weren't even slightly serious about selling, but others found this market too stressful, choices too plentiful or prices too much of a challenge.

Looking at the specific data on those who quit in the second half of July, almost every single one quit with a longer DOM than the average DOM for their specific sections. Their average DOM was higher than the west-of-Sepulveda region as well. This tells us that sellers are quitting the market after trying to navigate it for some time.

Of course, when long-timers quit, that improves the DOM figure overall, even if it obscures the bigger story in the neighborhood.
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