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Existing housing inventory available for sale in San Diego County dropped again last month, ending down 31 percent from a year prior. Over that same year, existing home sales increased by 19 percent. The combination of increased demand and diminished supply has pushed the months-of-inventory figure down to 4.9 months — the lowest point on this next chart (and for that matter the lowest since I started tracking this figure in January 2006).

Supply is substantially tighter for single-family homes than for condos, however. The next chart shows months of inventory for each property type since the beginning of 2008. April saw 6.2 months of condos inventory versus just 4.4 months of detached home inventory.

The disparity between condo and detached home availability is an interesting (to me, anyway) aside. The main event is the fact that inventory as a whole is so tight right now.

I’ve written often about “shadow inventory” — homes that are in foreclosure but haven’t hit the market yet. They are still out there, and it seems reasonable to believe that many of them will eventually enter the market and swell the supply of homes for sale once again. But for now, they remain in the shadows — and San Diego housing inventory is tighter than it has been for years.

— RICH TOSCANO

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