Lockboxes and Buyer Activity in Charlottesville

Lockbox openings = buyer activity.

Fewer showings will lead to fewer contracts will lead to fewer sales. But … one component that cannot be factored in is that often, when a buyer sees a home for the “first” time in person, it’s actually the second time they’re seeing the home. (insert shameless example of a home in Charlottesville that I’m marketing now)

Charlottesville Lockbox Openings Since May-1-2

Enter Nest Realty. For over a year now, we have been accessing the entire MLS lockbox data and trending that info. We don’t have access to what houses are being shown, nor in what areas of the MSA.

The only thing we know is that in the last 7 days, there were 1318 lockboxes that were opened in the entire MLS. Compare that to a year ago when 1455 were opened, and we can start to see that there are 9.4% fewer homes being looked at than a year ago.

But certainly one week does not tell the whole story. Let’s look at the year since January 1. Internally, we predicted that 2011 would be far below 2010 in the first quarter for showings, and we were right. The basis for this hypothesis was that during 2010, the Homebuyer Tax Credit was in place and thus showings and sales were higher than the true market. We weren’t too worried about it. Our belief was that as soon as we got to comparing May numbers, we would likely see growth against 2010.

Note that this data is for the entire Charlottesville MLS – including a few listings in Lexington, Rockbridge, Augusta County … and Charlottesville, Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Nelson and Louisa.

Read the whole thing.

Update – 12 October 2011: Keith takes a deeper look at the correlation between lockbox openings in the Charlottesville MLS and housing inventory in the Charlottesville-Albemarle region. Fascinating stuff.

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