Our Annual Call for Fresh Inventory

Februarys are always interesting in the real estate world. This one is no exception.

On every encounter with a colleague so far this month, whether at a showing of a house, at an open house or at the weekly Tuesday morning sales meeting, there’s the same question: Is it slow out there?

That question is almost always pitched with a guarded tentativeness, suggesting that the colleague isn’t certain if the market is slow or if it’s just their business that’s slack.

So, we thought it would be interesting to look back at previous Februarys in the River Oaks real estate market for comparison and to zero-in on the current early indicators of sales activity for the upcoming Spring selling season.

(By the way, you can search by month to look at past reports in our archives here.)

In March 2019 we lamented the slow start in the first 10 weeks of the year despite high levels of inventory, following the cracking pace of sales in the final months of 2018. It appeared that the only activity was from big, confident buyers picking off properties with large lots. That year ended with a very respectable volume of sales, despite the slow start. High levels of inventory helped a lot.

In February 2020 we lamented the lack of inventory causing lackluster sales. Little did we realize that, a few weeks later, the arrival of Covid would make that observation irrelevant for the remainder of the first half of that year. Despite it all, 2020 finished remarkably strong.

In February 2021 we noted that the market barely paused over the year-end holidays. Vigorous new inventory fed the market from January all the way through the end of that record-shattering year.

By February 2022 we were griping about low inventory again. We rarely complain about a lack of buyers for River Oaks, but sellers staying out of the market is a common problem. Nevertheless, last year ended not quite as stellar as 2021, but still well ahead of par.

As we start 2023 inventory is as low as it was at the start of 2022. It has been half a dozen years since the number of houses for sale in River Oaks was below 50 throughout the year.

But is that the whole story? In a word, no.

True, showing activity, the earliest indicator of future sales, was dismal in January 2023. In fact, we can’t remember the last time that January showings were even lower than the preceding December.

But they have shot up this month, finally.

There have been enough truly new listings (as opposed to those re-listed old dawg-houses) to bring out the buyers. In fact, more than half of those new listings so far this year are in contract. One has even closed already.

And to look closely at the actual pace of the market we use a clumsy-sounding statistic we call Days on the Market Since Last Price Change, or DOMSLPC.

One could argue that the pace of the market as we write this is quicker than at the same time in either 2021 or 2022.

And if you allow for one outlier (the shaded area in the numbers for the first quarter of 2023) the number of days on the market drops to six days for properties priced less than $4 million.

What the market is saying, and what we are saying to you is: It’s going to turn out to be a decent year for sales in River Oaks but, if you’re thinking of selling, why not get ahead of the crowd?

We are just a phone call away.