Thursday, April 30, 2009

Are we there yet? Signs in March indicate bottom may be near

Trends in the housing market through the end of March suggest we might be seeing a bit of stabilization in the market, if not necessarily improving conditions for sellers.

On the plus side this month, total inventory continued to decrease dropping below the peak levels in 2006 - 2008. Likewise, the increasing gaps in inventory to sales (or absorption rate) seen over the past couple of years appeared to be leveling off. The rate was 10.1 months of inventory compared to 9.8 months of inventory at this time last year - even with a lower number of sales for the period.

At the national level, the Case Shiller Price Index showed decelerating price declines and first-time buyers were an increasing volume of sales accounting for 53% of transactions.

Areas to watch continue to be the level of foreclosure and short sales. This month the volume in the Cincinnati MLS was approximately 40% of sales compared to near 50% in January and February. While this might be a good sign, many banks delayed foreclosures while new government programs were put into effect. Banks have now started up foreclosure proceedings again which could put more inventory on the market in the coming months.

Cincinnati market data snapshots:

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