Interest Rate Roundup

Monday, December 15, 2008

NAHB index holds at record low in December

The National Association of Home Builders released its Housing Market Index for December today. The details ...

* The overall index held at 9 in December. This tied November's record low for the series, which dates back to 1985.

* Among the subindices, the one measuring current single family home sales dipped to 8 from 9 ... the one measuring expectations about future sales slumped to 16 from 18 ... while the one measuring prospective buyer traffic held steady at 7.

* Regionally, the Northeast index held at 11, while the West index inched up to 7 from 6. Meanwhile, the Midwest index slumped to 6 from 7 and the South index dropped to 10 from 12.

If you're looking for signs of life in the housing market, you're not going to find them in today's numbers. Two out of three sub-indices declined in December, while the overall index held at a record low. It appears the crummy economy and rising unemployment are offsetting -- or overpowering -- the impact of lower mortgage rates.

The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department are unlikely to stop searching for the right combination of incentives to spur home sales and improve market confidence. The open question is whether there truly IS a solution other than what I keep repeating: "time and price." I remain skeptical.


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