Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't Fall For Housing Recovery Talk, More Pain Is On The Way

More and more people are jumping on the housing recovery bandwagon, but the excitement is a little premature. There are many signs pointing to the fact that the bottom is still far off in the distance. For more on this, read the following blog post from Tim Iacono.

This report by Ben Rooney at CNN/Money takes a few rather ambivalent comments by impartial analysts and combines them with more drivel from a National Association of Realtors shill, interpreting it all as a hopeful sign for the housing market.

Despite last month's decline, existing home sales appear to be stabilizing, according to Ian Shepherdson, economist at High Frequency Economics.

"Sales are volatile month-to-month, but the trend appears to be flattening off," Shepherdson said in a research note.
Yes, and they flattened out last year too before falling off a cliff (see chart from previous post), back when distressed sales accounted for a much smaller portion of overall sales.

By the way, what's with the characterization of distressed sales accounting for "just over half of all transactions in March" in the latest report? In the past, the NAR has cited percentages or a range of percentages, last month putting that figure at between 40 and 45 percent.

The phrase "just over half" could be anywhere between 51 and 60 percent, perhaps higher....

Here's the comment from the realtors' trade group:
First-time buyers made up 53% of existing home sales in March. Charles McMillan, NAR's president, said first-time buyers are "crucial" to a recovery in the overall housing market.

"The housing market always heals from the bottom up, and with large numbers of first-time buyers entering the market it will become a little easier for sellers to trade up or down," McMillan said in a statement.
Between this sort of optimism and word of bidding wars on foreclosed properties (discussed here yesterday and reported again in the Wall Street Journal today), this is probably a very good indication that there is much more pain to come in the housing market.

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