January 31, 2007 at 1:25 AM #8311
Third-best Year In 2006, Says NAR And NAHB
by Blanche Evans
Is it really correct to call falling housing prices a “correction”? It would be hard to argue that people who paid more than they can sell their houses for now didn’t pay market value at the time. They’d hate to think of themselves as incorrect about buying.
Meanwhile, 2006 was the year of the “soft landing,” or the “crash” that never happened, although some areas did go through substantial pain as the pace of home sales and prices reset from record highs in 2005.
There was no appreciation in December as median home prices stuck at $222,000, unchanged from December 2005, but for all of 2006, the median price increased an anemic 1.1 percent to $222,000, from a median price of $219,600 in 2005.
That said, existing-home sales had a charley horse, but still managed to cross the finish line with the third-best record in sales ever, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales were off 7.9 percent in December from 2005, but the year finished down by only 8.4 percent, thanks to a much faster sales pace early in the year.
David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said, “It looks like we’re moving beyond the low for the housing cycle last fall, and buyers are responding to historically low interest rates and competitive pricing by home sellers. In addition, a tightening inventory of homes on the market is supporting prices.”
Housing supplies have improved for sellers now looking for some positive momentum as they gear up for the spring market — housing’s at a 6.8 month supply in December, down from a 7.3-month supply in November.
New homes fared a little better in December. Sales of new single-family homes rose 4.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.12 million units in December, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department last week.
Sales for 2006 were precipitously lower in 2006. At 1.061 million units sold, this was a 17.3 percent drop from the all-time high achieved in 2005, and the sharpest percentage decline since 1990.
The good news there is that the housing industry can work quickly to slow inventory production and to sell excess inventory with incentives.
“The stabilization of home sales and housing demand that we are now seeing is the first step required to put the housing market back on track,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. “The second step is to whittle down the inventory overhang, which builders have been doing since July, and the final step will be to bring housing starts back up to sustainable levels. We anticipate that starts will bottom out in the first quarter of this year and that residential construction activity will be moving up by the second half of 2007.”
Like existing homes, the inventory of new homes for sale hit a 10-month low of 537,000 units in December, equivalent to a 5.9-month supply at the current sales price which is down from the high of 7.2-month supply set in July 2005.
Published: January 30, 2007January 31, 2007 at 1:49 AM #44488
I was wondering if anyone knows what the month’s supply of housing is for San Diego County. Has it improved like they are claiming?January 31, 2007 at 9:20 AM #44508sdrealtorParticipant
Yes it has improved alot. There are 9853 dettached homes on the market at this moment and 2397 in escrow which is a ratio of about 4 to 1. There were 1,551 closed sales in December which is a ratio of about 6.5 to 1. Both numbers are far better than they have been in months. The real question is how much inventory comes on the market. Sales volume should be pretty comparable to last year but the supply number is the unknown. If inventory doubles and while it doesnt look like that will happen right now ,it easily could, it would get pretty ugly.January 31, 2007 at 12:05 PM #44515
“I’ll take that bet! I believe 2007 will be better than 2006. Now 2008…that’s gonna be ugly.”
I am curious about exactly what you mean. Why do you think 2008 will be worse, if it looks like 2007 “could” actually be slightly better than 2006?January 31, 2007 at 12:34 PM #44522sdrealtorParticipant
There is still some life in this market and there are folks that wouldnt pay last years price but will pay this years price. As the decline slows to a halt and the distress sales increase, we will become a very stagnant market. I wouldnt be surprised to see average market times in the 200 day range. A stagnant stand off. Thats what I consider ugly.
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