Interest Rate Roundup

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

January home sales tank in my neck of the woods

Every month, we get a smattering of reports on home sales in various regions before the "official" data comes out from the National Association of Realtors. The sales news out of Southern California from Dataquick, for instance, was downright awful. Home and condo sales there plunged 45% year-over-year in January, sinking below the 10,000-unit mark for the first time on record (DQ data goes back to 1988).

In my neck of the woods, a real estate brokerage firm called Illustrated Properties releases some numbers on local sales. The latest figures show that January was yet another rough month for housing here:

* Sales fell 45.3% YOY to 383 units from 700 in January 2007.

* The inventory of homes for sale rose 7.3% to 24,550 from 22,888. That means we had roughly 64 months (or more than 5 years) of supply on the market -- a truly staggering sum.

* What did prices do in response? They tanked. The median price of an existing home fell 19.2% YOY, or $57,000, to a new cycle low of $240,000.

The question as we head into the spring is whether or not lower interest rates from the Federal Reserve, the government stimulus package, the expansion of the role of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA in mortgage lending, and other measures can finally help revive the moribund housing market. Only time will tell.


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