Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Housing market index rises in September

The latest read on the housing market was just released. I'm referring to the monthly figures from the National Association of Home Builders, which showed that in September ...

* The group's overall index climbed to 18 from 16 in August. The August reading was a record low for the index, which dates back to 1985.

* The sub-index measuring present home sales inched up to 17 from 16. The sub-index measuring expectations about future sales jumped to 30 from 24. Meanwhile, the sub-index measuring prospective buyer traffic climbed to 14 from 13.

* Regionally, the index rose in all four areas -- to 22 from 16 in the Northeast, to 15 from 13 in the Midwest, to 22 from 20 in the South and to 12 from 10 in the West.

The recent decline in mortgage rates, plus the government's efforts to stimulate housing demand and reduce foreclosure activity, have brightened spirits in the housing industry. However, the biggest improvement this month was in expectations for FUTURE sales. The subindices that measure buyer traffic and current sales were more muted, each rising by just a point. We'll have to see if the positive vibes about the future translate into actual, closed sales, what with the credit markets in disarray and unemployment on the rise.


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