Interest Rate Roundup

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Slicing and dicing the home sales numbers

When you look BEHIND the headlines, it becomes clear the housing news just keeps getting worse and worse.

NEW HOMES: While the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales technically “rose” between March and April, the government drastically revised DOWN the sales figures for the last two months. Census cut March sales by 71,000 units and February sales by 46,000. So on net, sales are actually falling. And the inventory of homes for sale rose yet again to a fresh record high of 565,500. Prices are basically flat YOY, a huge deceleration from double-digit growth a few quarters back. Next up -- outright declines.

EXISTING HOMES: Sales declined outright – 2% month-over-month and 5.7% from last April. Condo, co-op and single-family home inventory skyrocketed 36.7% from last year to a whopping 3.38 million units. We don’t know about you, but when we see the demand for ANYTHING fall almost 6% and supply jump almost 37%, we come to one conclusion: Prices are way out of whack!

The median price measure used by the National Association of Realtors hasn’t dropped year-over-year yet. But it’s only a matter of time. We’re already seeing drastic price reductions in our market, and reading about similar cuts from one end of the country to the other.

Speaking of my market, YOY sales in the West Palm Beach/Boca Raton market collapsed by a whopping 43%. Statewide sales were off by almost a third. Median sales prices are still up slightly from a year ago, but the rate of appreciation is rapidly decelerating -- to just 4% in the most recent month from 30% last year.


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