As part of the wash, rinse and repeat of the data cycle, the end of the month is always about the latest housing numbers. So far, it has been a mixed bag.
On Monday the news was marginally good. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) existing home sales jumped by 10% in September.
However, I say “marginally good” because September 30th marked the final end of the extended home-buyer tax credit deadline which undoubtedly juiced the final figures. What’s more, the median sale price for used homes was $171,700, down 2.4 percent from the same month a year ago.
Those trends in falling prices were reflected again on Tuesday when the latest Case-Shiller Index hit the street. According to the data, Home prices fell 0.2% in August in an otherwise disappointing report.
Home prices declined broadly in 17 of the 20 cities as both composites saw a weakening in year-over-year figures, indicating that the housing market continues to bounce along the recent lows—despite an all time low in interest rates.
The last item in the data series was released this morning and all thingsconsidered new home sales were on the positive side of the ledger.
From the AP by Alan Zibel entitled: New home sales rise 6.6 pct. after dismal summer
“Sales of new homes improved last month after the worst summer in nearly five decades, but not enough to lift the struggling economy.
The Commerce Department says new home sales in September grew 6.6 percent from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 307,000. Even with the increase, the past five months have been the worst for new home sales on records dating back to 1963.
The sales figures were driven by a 61 percent monthly surge in the Midwest. Sales grew about 3 percent in the South and Northeast. They fell by nearly 10 percent in the West.
New home sales have risen 9 percent from the bottom in May but are still down 78 percent from their peak sales pace of nearly 1.4 million homes in July 2005. A healthy sales pace is around 800,000 new homes.
High unemployment, tight credit and uncertainty about home prices have kept people from buying homes. Government tax credits propelled the market earlier in the year, but those expired in April.
The median sales price was $223,800. That was up 3.3 percent from a year earlier.
Builders are competing with millions of foreclosures and other distressed properties that show no signs of abating. They are unlikely to ramp up construction until those are cleared away and demand picks up.”
So mixed bag or not, here’s the bottom line….
Despite the upturn, existing home sales are at levels 19 percent lower than a year ago.
Home prices have begun to fall again in the face of lower rates.
And new homes sales over the last five months are at an all time worst.
On top of that, the impact of foreclosure gate is nowhere to be found yet….
Add it all up and it’s hardly time to be bullish on housing.
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