RI home sales dip as inventory declines

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – If you’re driving through neighborhoods in Rhode Island, you’ll probably notice for sale signs in front yards – but they may not last long.

“The market is very vibrant,” explained Joe Luca, president-elect of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. “One of the things we’ve noticed is that inventory is extremely tight.”

In July 2016, there were more than 4,600 single-family home listings in the state. Fast forward to July 2017, and there were less than 3,900 single-family listings. According to the association, that’s the fewest number of single-family homes for sale at the start of the third quarter since 2004.

Luca said the lack of inventory caused a 4.2% dip in sales for July 2017 compared to July 2016.

“One of the reasons that inventory is tight is because we haven’t had a lot of new construction in the area,” Luca said. “Another reason is that the empty-nesters aren’t selling their homes.”

“They own it free and clear,” Luca added. “It’s worth $280,000 or $300,000, so they’re going to sell it but what are they going to buy? If they want to buy a condo, it’s probably going to cost them about that or more, so there’s not really incentive for them to sell.”

The inventory issue is also driving up sale prices.

The median sale price of single-family homes in Rhode Island in July 2017 was $270,000. At the same time last year, the median price was $262,500.

“It’s really been tough for many buyers to find the right home,” Luca said. “It can be frustrating for some buyers who are first time home buyers because they don’t have the capital to put down to compete with some of the more well-capitalized buyers.”

The number of multi-family properties on the market fell by 21.4% in July 2017 compared to July 2016.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.