Thursday, April 1, 2010

February housing a see-saw ride

February sales were full of ups and downs as the market tried to find some balance. Some of the local highlights include:
  • Sales down by 17%
  • Average price up by 13%
  • Lender-controlled sales down by 15%
  • Housing supply up by 1.5 months
  • Average days on market down 11%
  • Pending sales up by 8%
(Click to see local charts.)

If you were looking for the market to gain a more solid footing locally, there wasn't much to go on. The weather was likely a factor in causing some sales slowdown, but there are still enough areas of concern that no one is ready to say that the market has fully stabilized.

One indicator to keep an eye on in March and April will be the inventory levels. After seeing inventory to sales levels work their way down last year, the rate has popped back up significantly (13.4 months in February compared to < 12 at this time last year). While it may be a temporary blip on the radar, a sustained high level will begin pressuring prices once again and - as noted above - the average sales price has been one of the positive statistics we've seen.

On a national level, the news was somewhat similar. Existing sales slipped slightly on a monthly basis, but were 7% higher than Feb. '09. Inventory levels actually increased from January whereas the local inventory rate dropped slightly month over month.

New home sales remained bleak, falling 2.2% to a new record low, but most continue to see this as a good thing as it is the only way to clear out the existing inventory.

One trend that has gotten a bit more news recently: the number of households has actually fallen as more families are living in multi-generational homes and singles are doubling up whether buying or renting. This is no doubt related to the extended recessionary period and high unemployment rates. The question will be how long this trend continues.

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