Go fish. Scripps Ranch listing inventory is oh-so-low.

This is the trend for inventory of Scripps Ranch homes for sale (Altos Research, 92131 Zip code). It’s ugly.

It’s ugly, that is, if you are a buyer.

I was reminded that it might be time to touch on the little empty shelf syndrome we are currently experiencing when I found myself, yesterday, at the weekly Scripps Ranch broker pitch session. The pitch session is a long-standing tradition in many communities, Scripps included, where agents from all offices gather to network and promote their new listings.

Now, I’ve been a bit of a negative Nellie about the pitch session in recent years, having long argued that this relic of the good ol’ days has essentially been relegated obsolete by things like, oh, the Internet. It seems rather goofy to stand in front of a rather insignificant subset of the Realtor population (insignificant in terms of numbers) and as many vendors – Title reps, loan officers, home stagers and others who will never bring a buyer to one of my transactions but would very much like to earn my business – and read from the MLS. Yet we do this, week in and out, because old habits die hard.

As this week’s meeting wrapped and we were swapping idle banter before hitting our Realtor mobiles to visit the newest offerings, it struck me that our current market may be serving to validate, at least temporarily, this industry throwback to the simpler days of water cooler back slapping. I watched as several informal discussions were taking place around the room between agents. Some had buyer needs, others had upcoming listings, and all were dealing from their respective decks in a real estate game of “Go Fish,” attempting to make that all-important match.

Here’s why. In Scripps Ranch this morning, there are 62 active detached listings. That’s it. 62. Consider that in the context of approximately 8,000 detached homes standing and in the context of a “normal” inventory of listings being approximately double what we have today. It’s slim pickings.

By the numbers:

Traditional sales = 44
Short sales = 11
Bank-owned homes = 7
Average days on market = 75 days*
Median price = Approximately $725,000**

* This is fakey days on market, because so many of these have changed agents or otherwise relisted and, therefore, enjoyed an opportunity to reset the old odometer. The real average is actually longer.

** “Approximately,” because of a stupid value range price that, in this market, no one understands and makes little sense.

So, these days, the more tenacious agents are left to their own devices to try to make choices materialize for their buyer clients. And, sometimes, it works. Twice in the past two months, agents from our own little shop found a matched pair, pre-MLS, to the delight of both parties to the transaction.

And, yesterday, I found myself engaged in one of those little card games with two other agents. One had an unmet buyer need, another had a client who was preparing to sell a home that met their criteria but needed to find a replacement home, and I had a home currently being staged to debut next week that sounded like a fit for the middle man. The first agent called it a possible trifecta. Or maybe it is a hat trick – depends on your sport.

As a result, two showings have been scheduled. It may work; it probably won’t. But, crazier things have been known to happen, and desperate times call for desperate measures. The moral to the story is that there are buyers out there. Listings? Not so much.  And to all those folks who ask if they would be better off to wait until after the holidays to list, just remember that the new year will bring with it new buyers but, also, more competition. If you do hold off, at least make sure your agent is stumping for you in the meantime.

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