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What is the Shadow Inventory of Homes?

Monday, August 10, 2009 posted by Tommi Crow

A recent news article by Reuters states that “The percentage of U.S. homeowners who owe more than their house is worth will nearly double to 48 percent in 2011.”  

Meaning? Half of us will be upside down, underwater, or whatever you want to call it over the next 2 years?  Pretty scary.  How do they know that?   One indicator they use may be the Shadow Inventory of Homes, which will eventually enter the market place over the next 3 years. 

So, what is a Shadow Inventory of Homes and How Does it Affect Future Home Values?  Technically, a property is not in foreclosure until the lenders files against a deliquent loan.   Lenders are purposefully not filing to foreclose, in order to control the present inventory by keeping homes off the market.  This creates a Shadow Inventory of Homes in Default.  Why do they do this?  Simple economics, really.   Less supply creates more demand (ie: higher prices) for the property they already have for sale.

Since, we know lenders are holding back the number of homes that should be in foreclosure, how many “shadow” distressed properties will come into the market in the future?  Truefully, we can’t know the exact number.  That is the reason it is referred to as a Shadow Inventory.  We can all see that the problem is lurking out there, but we can’t identify the exact numbers or the amount of future damage because “only the shadow knows…”.

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