How long will it take the country to move through the “shadow inventory” of foreclosed and REO properties? For the first time in two years, Standard & Poor’s analysts have lowered their estimate, although only a little.

image Granted, you need to take S&P’s analysis with a grain of salt — these are the folks who gave all those sub-prime loans AAA ratings just before the housing bubble burst — but we’re not ones to turn away from a bit of good news. So here it is:

S&P says that it expects it will take 47 months to clear the country’s $405 billion worth of shadow inventory — and that’s down from its earlier estimate of 52 months (made in the first quarter).

Had it stuck with its earlier estimate, we’d be looking at 49 months of inventory today; instead, S&P says it’s only 47. A small change to be sure, but a welcome one.

Click here for the Housing Wire story, with charts and everything.