Why is inventory becoming the big issue in Virginia real estate? Because there’s not enough of it. (If you’re in an area that does have plenty, be advised: It probably won’t last.)

Check out these statewide figures for February (the latest date we have solid numbers for):

  • Closed sales were up 13.8%, but.
  • Pending sales were down 31.6%, so.
  • Inventory was down 40.2%, and.
  • Months supply of inventory was down 45.3%

That’s huge. Meanwhile, days on market is down (-10.4%) and average closed prices are up (+9.7%) — in other words, the market is doing what it’s supposed to be doing: moving homes.

But when you look at pending sales and inventory, you see the danger. It’s hard to have a market when there’s not much to sell.

There’s hope (ain’t there always?) — there are plenty of REO homes still sitting around, and, assuming banks don’t want to be homeowners, those will make it into the market.

It better happen quickly, because also coming down the pike are “shadow consumers” or “boomerang buyers” that I wrote about in August — people who were smacked down by the bursting bubble and are just now getting their credit score where it needs to be. They’ll be back in the market.

Hopefully the market will be open for them.