The median price per square foot was up about 1% in February, but
that’s a smaller amount that its January decline. So I would
characterize prices by this measure as continuing to go nowhere, as
they have done since September.
This can be seen on the Case-Shiller proxy, which has pretty much been
flatlined, and (if the latest estimates are accurate) continued to be
Volume dropped as it always does in February (it’s a short month and in
the slow season to boot). As with last month, we are below
year-ago sales numbers, whereas most of 2009 was spent above the
figures from a year prior. If my post-fake tax credit expiration,
pre-alleged future tax credit expiration lull theory holds (I’m still
working on the name for that one), sales will pick up soon enough.
Inventory for sale picked up but is still low on an absolute basis:
inventory, which is also a normal thing to see in February:
since the recovery in the median price per square foot began. Now
we are almost at the strong season once again, and we’ve got even less
supply compared to demand than at this time last year. At the
same time there is some serious macro risk in the form of the Fed’s
threatened March exit from the MBS market. I suspect that they
will jump right back in if rates rise too much when they bail, but it
could make for at least a period of ugliness in the mortgage and
housing markets. Also, the tax credit is supposed to end in
April, if memory serves, so that could goose things in the next couple
of months as well.
There are a lot of moving parts, as always. Things could get
exciting depending on what happens with the Fed and the MBS market —
but there’s no excitement yet, as last month was more of the same.