Chart tracks tight supply of homes in Franklin, MA

If you’re in the market to buy a home in Franklin, Massachusetts you already know that there aren’t a lot of homes for sale!  Here’s a chart that shows how tight the supply of available homes in town has become:

Franklin MA homes for sale inventory March 2014

The chart tracks monthly fluctuations in the inventory of homes for sale in Franklin, Mass since January 2007 on MLS-PIN, the MLS system that covers most of the Bay State.  The lower the blue bars in the chart above, the smaller the supply of available single family homes.

Supply of homes tight since January 2013

You can see how normally there is a rhythmic pattern to the supply of homes in Franklin which closely follows the seasons.  The inventory of available homes bulges every year during the spring and summer as more sellers put their homes on the market.  Housing supply contracts annually as the cold of winter approaches.  This pattern was fairly consistent from 2007 to 2012, but 2013 saw a big change: there was no large increase in the supply of homes in the spring and summer of 2013.  The dearth of homes lasted throughout last year and has continued into 2014.  Currently there is just over a 2 month supply of single family homes in Franklin.  That’s a very limited inventory!

The end of listings that you could not buy

Back in May 2013 MLS-PIN made a significant change in how it classified and displayed listings.  The change greatly reduces the number of listings now shown on MLS-PIN as “active” and available for purchase.

Under the old classification system used by MLS-PIN up until May 2013, listings that were under agreement (had an accepted offer) could still be classified as “active” and displayed as available for showings and purchase under a confusing listing category MLS-PIN called “active with a flag”.  The active with a flag listing category was intended to be a purely temporary classification to be used with newly pending listings.  But it unintentionally resulted in what amounted to phantom inventory of homes shown on MLS-PIN as available for purchase that really were no longer for sale.

sale

To end the confusion and eliminate the false inventory of homes for sale, MLS-PIN effectively eliminated the “active with a flag” status in May 2013.  Except for certain very rare instances we need not explain in this post, once a listing gets an accepted offer, it must now be classified on MLS-PIN as either “contingent” or “under agreement”.  Both of these classifications remove the listing from “active” status and means the listing is no longer shown on MLS-PIN as available for purchase.

Historical data overstates past years’ inventory

The end of the “active with a flag” status makes current MLS-PIN data much more reliable.  If a home is now displayed as “active” in the MLS-PIN data feed, it really IS available for purchase.  But historical data maintained MLS-PIN on homes that were for sale during any given month prior to May 2013 remain unaffected by the classification change that ended the “active with a flag” status.  This historical data still contain those confusing “active with a flag” listings and thus can materially overstate the number of homes that were for sale during any month or year prior to May 2013.

So the housing inventory shown in the chart above for any month prior to May 2013 likely is inflated by a good number of “active with a flag” listings.  But the chart does accurately depict the exceedingly low supply of homes currently available: there truly are very few homes for sale currently in Franklin, MA!

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