Shrinkage: Top 3 California Markets for Inventory Reduction

The California real estate market is shrinking. A new report shows that housing inventory is falling fast in many parts of the state. Oakland, Stockton and Fresno had the biggest drop in inventory. It’s another chapter in the dramatic transformation taking place across the Golden State.

Last week, Realtor.com released their latest housing market summary. The report offered insight into 146 of the largest real estate markets in the country, with data extending through August 2012. According to that report, three California cities — Oakland, Stockton and Fresno — experienced the largest reduction in for-sale inventory over the last year. Rankings were based on the number of homes listed for sale on Realtor.com.

See also: Five Housing Markets Where List Prices are Rising Fast

We sorted those 146 cities based on inventory changes from August 2011 to August 2012. The result? Eight of the top ten cities for inventory reduction were located in California.

Cities Where Listings Have Dropped the Most

Here are the top ten cities for inventory reduction, based on listing data from Realtor.com. The number beside each city reflects inventory changes from August 2011 to August 2012. For instance, the number of Oakland homes listed for sale on Realtor.com dropped by 58% during the 12-month period.

  1. Oakland, CA (-58.35%)
  2. Stockton-Lodi, CA (-45.03%)
  3. Fresno, CA (-43.13%)
  4. Sacramento, CA (-42.24%)
  5. Riverside-San Bernardino, CA (-41.75%)
  6. Bakersfield, CA (-41.36% )
  7. San Jose, CA (-41.10%)
  8. Seattle, WA (-41.07%)
  9. San Francisco, CA (-40.15%)
  10. Atlanta, GA (-37.02%)

This is a national ranking, though it’s heavily dominated by California real estate markets. The Realtor.com monthly housing summary looks at 146 metropolitan areas across the country.

Oakland, CA: Fastest Moving Market in the U.S.?

Federal Bldg in OaklandOakland’s real estate market has experienced a major drop in inventory. The number of homes listed for sale on Realtor.com fell by a whopping 58%, from August 2011 to August of this year. I’ve written about this trend before.

But Oakland bears another distinction as well. Out of the 146 metro-level housing markets included in the report, Oakland had the shortest median age of inventory. This metric gives us some insight into how quickly homes are selling. And apparently, they are selling like hotcakes in Oakland, California.

The median age of inventory for this metro area was 20 days. By way of contrast, most Florida cities had a median age of more than 100 days.

The median list price for Oakland homes shot up by 13% over the last year.

Stockton, CA: Can Investors Save This Real Estate Market?

Stockton City CenterStockton was one of the cities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis. According to DataQuick, a San Diego-based research firm, approximately 7,500 Stockton homes and condos have been foreclosed upon since the end of 2006.

The city is trying to tackle this problem on several fronts. One strategy is to use federal funding to buy and refurbish foreclosed homes. But the biggest impact so far seems to be the result of investors. Like many other California housing markets, Stockton has attracted the attention of real estate investors who seek to capitalize on rock-bottom prices.

As a result of these and other factors, there are far fewer homes for sale in Stockton today than a year ago. The number of listings on Realtor.com dropped by 45% over the last year.

Fresno, CA: Named a ‘Top Turnaround Town’ by Realtor.com

City of Fresno flagRealtor.com maintains a list of ‘Top Turnaround Towns’ in the U.S. These housing markets have improved significantly since their post-crisis lows. Fresno, California was named one of the top ten turnaround towns for the second quarter of 2012.

Inventory reduction had a lot to do with this. According to the authors of the report, Fresno “catapulted up the turnaround list to #9 from #57 in Q1 2012 due to the nearly 50% year-over-year quarterly reduction of inventory.”

More recent data shows a continuation of this trend. Between August 2011 and August 2012, the number of homes for sale in the Fresno area dropped by 43%. The median list price rose by 11% during the same period.

Statewide, California just had its best August for home sales since 2006. Home sales rose by more than 9% last month, compared to the same period last year.