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It's time for one of our regular updates on the Manhattan Beach real estate market.

Just as they've (finally) begun voting in the presidential election now, we're also now getting to the time in the real estate calendar where predictions can be put to the test, and we can finally find out what kind of a year this will be.

Is this another rally year for Manhattan Beach real estate? A time to see the market calm, but not wobble? The end of a 5-year party?

The Super Bowl is the traditional kickoff to the "Spring" real estate season. So this is when there should be more activity. As we begin, there's no obvious worry in the market today. 

Inventory poses an interesting question. It's up. What might that mean?

Look at pre-Super-Bowl inventory going back a…

It sure feels like a shortage of real estate inventory in Manhattan Beach has been chronic.

But data show that the situation loosened up a bit in the second half of 2015.

To start with, well, now: Comparing only the last 3 years to each other, 2015 saw a much higher balance of year-end inventory (53) than was seen in prior years.

There were more than twice as many post-holiday leftovers at the end of 2015 as were seen at the close of 2013 (25).

As you can see in our chart here, the bump in inventory had begun to grow in July and hit a new (recent) peak in August, when total inventory hit 82 listings, 11 higher than the year before and 12 higher than the peak for 2013.

Consistently from August till December, there were always about 10-20 more listings…

There have been precious few examples of inventory "bulges" in Manhattan Beach in recent years. Mainly, the story – and the complaint – has been about a lack of choices for buyers.

But in East Manhattan Beach this Fall, there was a (temporary?) growth in inventory of comparable homes at comparable prices. As we detailed those listings in "What's (Not) Happening in East MB?" here at MBC, we called the group "a fairly diverse set of 7 comparable homes, all priced between $2.2M-$2.4M or so, competing for buyers' attention."

Now, some have sold.

And what economics suggests might have happened has happened: Prices dropped in response to the expanded supply.

Sold Listings (3)

1561 Gates (5br/6ba, 4375 sqft.) (pictured) is a 1980s Mediterranean that came

It's hard to say when Manhattan Beach real estate inventory began to feel permanently cramped. But it seems like supply has been too low for demand since roughly late 2012.

It's no coincidence that prices have shot up during the same 3-year span, though there are many factors beyond the simple supply/demand imbalance.

Now we see in the data that 2015 is going to close out with the fewest residential real estate sales since 2009-2010. 

But if that were bad news, it's not paired with any slippage in the median price for Manhattan Beach properties. Prices are still up.

What does it all mean for the state of the market heading into next year?

First, let's look at sales totals.

As you see from our chart below, we just took a snapshot of sales YTD for each…