Housing inventories up in most cities in April

    The Wall Street Journal online site has a neat little interactive graphic that compares housing inventories over the last year in major U.S. markets.  As you might imagine from all the headlines, inventories are up pretty much across the board, but not dramatically so.  Some markets - Baltimore, Austin and Jacksonville stand out - are remarkable flat in terms of inventory wobble, whereas big cities where foreclosure rates have the greatest impact, like Chicago, show significant ups and downs over time.
    Although the populations of the cities drive the comparative raw numbers of houses on the market, the trend lines give an indication of the strength or weakness of the markets and, generally, of what has been happening with prices.  Obviously, higher inventories create more competition to sell and, therefore, greater pressure on pricing.  You are likely to find the greatest bargains where inventories are highest as a percentage of total local housing stock.
    Of course, like most sweeping generalizations, this one has exceptions, so take the chart and most other out-of-context data with a lump of salt.  You will find the interactive map by clicking here.

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