The days of rock-bottom housing prices may be reaching an end.
According to the National Association of REALTORS, the number of Existing Home Sales fell by a modest 140,000 units last month. It’s the fifth straight month in which home sales straddled the 4.5 million mark.
The national housing inventory is down 900,000 from its July 2008 peak.
These are two encouraging signs.
Meanwhile, in a separate report, the Commerce Department said the supply of newly-built homes for sale is at a 7-year low. This, too, is a positive signal for housing.
Home values are based on supply and demand. If the number of homes for sales falls while the number of buyers stays constant, home prices will rise. This is because the same number of buyers are competing for fewer properties. It’s basic economics and that may be what we’re seeing right now in the marketplace.
But the balance could shift further. Remember: the March housing data doesn’t account for first-time home buyers that used the $8,000 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. Because the stimulus package didn’t pass until February, buyers on the program likely hadn’t closed on their respective homes before March data was released.
There’s a big piece of the demand side of the equation unaccounted for, in other words, and if you’re an active home buyer now, you’re probably hearing a lot about multiple-offer situations and seeing this action first-hand.
Data from the housing market hasn’t been outstanding, but it’s definitely not looking worse. Sales levels, inventories and home prices appear to be leveling off nationally and the number of active seems to rising.
Overall, it points to higher home values ahead.
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