Long Term Trends Indicate Good News for Housing

Existing Home Sales July 2009

It seems that this may be another in what is appearing to be a string of articles about the possibly recovering housing market. After years of continuous bad news, the housing market continues to surprise. Last week, the latest good news came in the form of the monthly Existing Home Sales report.

An "existing home" is a home sold by an existing owner as opposed to a developer. It's non-new construction property, and in our market in Philadelphia and New Jersey, it is overwhelmingly the largest portion of the housing stock

The data on Existing Home Sales was noteworthy for its trends:

  1. Sales volume rose over four straight months for the first time in 5 years
  2. Sales volume rose year-to-year for the first time in 4 years
  3. Median home prices fell for the first time since April

Furthermore, first-time home buyers and buyers of "distressed" homes accounted for nearly one-third of the market activity each.

But, before we declare a bottom in housing, it's important that we remember the First Rule of Real Estate -- All Real Estate Is Local, and Philadelphia and the surrounding areas have always been more resilient than most markets throughout the country.

The Existing Home Sales report is not neighborhood-specific. It lumps cities like San Diego and Saint Paul into a giant sample set and fails to account for regional differences in real estate, let alone neighborhood ones.

This is the primary reason why on-the-ground real estate agents are better sources for a market pulse versus a report from a national trade group. The national group can't know the happenings of every street and every home in a market, and our market has not had some of the issues wuth fraud found in other states, nor the huge amount of speculative building that was part of the market problems in others.

That said, however, the national data isn't completely useless.

Looking a

Real Estate

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickrt the long-term patterns in the Existing Home Sales report, we can infer that ample supplies, low mortgage rates and tax credits are spurring home sales in a lot of U.S. markets. As a result, our offices are seeing more activity, both from our agencies and other firms, and we see properties going under agreement more rapidly, with multiple offer situations again being created.

Eventually, this will lead home prices higher.

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