Oh, what a difference a year makes. Look how huge the drop in inventory is this year as compared to 2011. There are actually 100 fewer homes on the market now than last September. What’s also positive is that the number of homes with sale pending is up too. And this is happening for the best reason of all — more homes are selling.

As of Sept. 30, there were 129 total listings of which 69 were available and 60 were sale pending. Inventory levels have been tight all year causing homes to sell quickly, some in days and with multiple offers, especially at the low end of the market.

Sales volume will be up for the fourth year in a row although the volume is still way off the 2004 peak. Because of the low inventory and shorter selling time, there are less price reductions now versus last year. Only 36 percent of current listings have had price reductions compared to 60 percent a year ago. And that was on a larger base number.

So what’s for sale on the coast? Prices of the 129 total listings range from $160,000 for a cottage in La Honda to $6 million for a La Honda ranch on 350 acres. Approximately 57 percent of all listings are priced under $750,000.

Surprisingly, there are 26 listings for sale under $500,000. Between $500,000 and $750,000 there are 49 listings. Between $750,000 and $1 million, there are 18 listings. Between $1 million and $1.5 million, there are 19 listings, and 17 listings above $1.5 million.

Looking at inventory by town, the South Coast has 26 total listings; Half Moon Bay has 50 listings; El Granada has 21; Moss Beach has 11; and Montara has 21.

This chart shows available and sale-pending inventory over time. Inventory started to rise between 2006 and 2010, as prices and volume declined. With mortgage rates so low and prices inching up this year, it’s not surprising to see the increased demand snapping up the inventory.

The number of homes with sales pending is my barometer for the future. Based on that, the fourth quarter will be strong in terms of volume. Prices are still a little harder to predict with so many distressed sales, many of which won’t close soon. Having said that, I still think the fourth quarter will be good for sellers as inventory remains low.

Steven Hyman is the broker and owner of Century 21 Sunset Properties. He can be reached at 726-6346 or at www.century21sunset.com.

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