Thursday, July 30, 2009

A glimmer of light in the long housing tunnel

Although no one's claiming an end to the housing slump, it's hard not to consider the positives in June's housing statistics as signs of life beginning to emerge.

Some of the good news at both the local and national levels include:
  • The inventory vs. sales rate in Cincinnati dropped to 7.2 months. This is the first time the monthly rate has been below the previous year since 2006. In fact, the rate was actually lower than the June 2007 rate.
  • June 2009 sales volume was higher than June 2008 volume. The first year over year volume increase in 37 months.
  • Nationally, median housing prices had their first month over month increase in over 3 years.
  • New home construction had an 11% increase over the previous month.
While all of the above are positives, I have to do a reality check as there are still many headwinds buffeting the housing market before we are likely to see a sustained upturn. Some of these still include:
  • Distressed property sales are still an outsized portion of the market and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
  • Average sales prices were still down year over year. 15% lower than this time last year (again, an attribute likely accountable to foreclosures and other distress sales). On a national level that figure was 17% lower, but also less of a decrease than seen in earlier months.
  • There's some reasonable expectation the market will get temporary support through the end of the year by first-time buyers taking advantage of the tax credit along with efforts to keep mortgage rates very low. No one knows quite what to expect if and when those elements go away.
So, while the market appears to be reaching the stabilization point, there should be no illusions that home prices are going to bounce back up anytime soon. On the other hand, buyers should be aware that well priced homes are getting snatched up quickly - even getting multiple offers in a matter of days.

For charts of June's statistics, see the links below

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