‘Shadow inventory’ concerns re-emerge

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One of the biggest unknowns in the housing industry is "shadow inventory." That term describes the number of homes that would be on the market if certain conditions were in place. For example, many people would be more than willing to list their home for sale now if there were not so many other homes already competing for buyers in their neighborhood. And, given the basic law of supply and demand, more supply typically means lower prices. Ted Jones, chief economist for Stewart Title, said he is concerned that a large number of "pent-up sellers" will enter the market once sales activity improves. "There are a lot of people who would put their home on the market if they felt they could sell it," Jones said. "We just don't know exactly how many of them are out there. When they do decide to sell, it will add to our inventories. So, we may run into a false bottom before we find the real one." Quantifying shadow inventory is problemati...