I received an interesting phone call yesterday from a well-respected colleague inquiring whether I had noticed any change in the number of listings in MLS.  "Yes!" was my response. "There are virtually no listings!".  We proceeded to have a 40min discussion about where all the listings went.

From his perspective, a search of MLS yielded about 24,000 active listings, a freakishly low number considering that around Jan 1, 2011, we were at about 40,000. (For the record, today, 5/27/11, my search of MLS yields 24,323 active listings). That's a decline of 40%!! For a market continually plagued by headlines like "Pending Home Sales Down" (CNBC 5/27/11), that's a bit tough to digest based on the stats I'm seeing.

So the question that resonates with most agents I've been speaking with is WHERE HAVE ALL THE LISTINGS GONE??? On the front page of the New York Time for 5/22/11 was the article "As Lenders Hold Homes in Foreclosure, Sales are Hurt". It essentially states that the biggest banks are holding onto something close to 900,000 homes, which is "almost twice as many as when the financial crisis began in 2007".  Per census data released in March 15% of homes are vacant.  What is the status of all of these homes?  With a red hot rental market and what appears to be, dare I say, a "falsely stabilizing" market, this is kind of a mystery- one that the more I asked were met with responses like, "Let me know what you find out..."

What does this mean for our housing market? For our economy? And beyond? I think it remains to be seen but I'm now starting to hear grumblings of everything from "Perhaps the banks are pooling these assets and spinning them off into billion-dollar investments to the highest bidder" to conspiracy theories about political agenda in the wake of the impending 2012 election year.

I know I will be inquiring with anyone I can think who might have some insight, but for now, if it truly means the market is absorbing the inventory that plagued us, GREAT! I'll bring out the champagne and start celebrating!  But nothing about the boom, bust and subsequent stagnant recovery has been as black and white and surely this won't be either...

Happy Memorial Day!!! Please remember our troops who fought and served our country so we could have a better place to live! :)