Monday, July 14, 2008

Real Estate Prices Rise for Four Straight Months - Is Anyone Noticing?

RISMEDIA - Amidst the gloom on Wall Street about housing someone forgot to check the stats. The National Association of Realtors® has now reported four straight months of rising housing prices, but it seems no one is listening.

According to NAR statistics, the median home price has fallen from a high of $230,200 in July 2006 to a low in February 2008 at $195,600, a drop of 15%. Since February, however, it has risen steadily every month. By May the index (which will be revised on July 24) had risen to $208,600, up $13,000 and a full 6.6%. Another indicator, the mean home price (otherwise known as the average home price), has also shown strength and has risen from a low of $242,000 also in February of this year to $253,100, a rise of $11,100 or 4.5%. It, too, has risen every month since February of this year.

“I just don’t know where Wall Street’s brains are today,” said David Michonski, CEO of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy in New York City. “Everyone on the Street is wringing their hands over housing when in fact the average American has been out this spring buying homes and pushing the median price higher. This has got to go down as one of Wall Street and Main Street’s biggest disconnects in history.”

In addition, on an annualized basis the volume of home sales has also risen somewhat from a low of 4,890,000 homes in January to 4,990,000 in May.

“Rising prices on expanding volume should not a crisis make on Wall Street,” says Michonski.

So why the crisis?

“They say that there are bulls and bears on Wall Street but there are also pigs. Pigs try not just to profit from a crisis but create one to profit from. Today there are just so many people who have positioned themselves to profit from a crisis that they refuse to admit the reality of what is happening on Main Street. It might hurt their positions.”

Is this the bottom?

“No one can know for sure, but the hard data is clear. The median price has risen four straight months. The average American is out there taking advantage of bargains in their local real estate market. They are not listening to Wall Street but following their own belief that the best time to buy is when no one else is, and they are out there buying. If this keeps up, February may prove to have been the low in prices.”

“It is possible that it will not be Hank Paulson or Ben Bernanke who will pull this country out of a housing recession, but the good common sense of the average American whose affordability to buy a home is at a five year high and is acting on it.”

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