February housing numbers were as gray, gloomy and cool as the winter months can be. Existing-home sales were down 9.6% month-over-month and new-home sales registered lows not seen in 50 years.
“Double-Rip” national market prognostics as whole have been hasty at best. After speaking to numerous Realtors, real estate experts and homebuilders for New homes Northern Virginia, February’s chilly data seemed more like a reflection of a tough winter in a tough market. February traditionally tends to be a slow month usually due to the weather constraints. The hardest hit regions last month were the northeast and the northwest.
Two new reports released this week reflect a nationwide springtime boost in residential real estate transactions. Existing-home sales increased 3.7% from February to March with 5.1 million purchase agreements drawn on single-family homes, townhouses, condos and co-ops from 4.9 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
2010’s national March figures were still 6.3% higher than this year’s. Higher numbers were in large part thanks to the homebuyer tax credits and other government purchase incentives, with an estimated 43% of last March’s buyers being first time homeowners. These housing numbers are somewhat a direct reflection of the artificial housing tax credit.
Nonetheless, the government has been restricting homeownership by imposing ridiculous mortgage qualification measures. Particularly hard hit are the self-employed and retired. In sum, let’s call it housing demand destruction by precluding reasonable financing guidelines causing strong rental demand and lease prices to skyrocket.
In the NAR report, Lawrence Yun, chief association economist, believes home sales numbers will continue to slowly improve:“Existing-home sales have risen in six of the past eight months, so we’re clearly on a recovery path,” he said. “With rising jobs and excellent affordability conditions, we project moderate improvements into 2012, but not every month will show a gain – primarily because some buyers are finding it too difficult to obtain a mortgage. For those fortunate enough to qualify, monthly mortgage payments as a percent of income have been at record lows.”
The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development just released March residential construction numbers. The rate of privately owned housing starts was 549,000 (seasonally adjusted), or 11.2% higher than February’s rate of 512,000. Single-family housing starts were 7.7% higher at 422,000 than February’s as well. Building permit authorizations for privately owned units and single-family homes were likewise higher.
As with existing-home sales, March housing starts, while up month-over-month, were still down 13.5% from last year. Again government pseudo-stimulus efforts played a role in last year’s numbers, but it also signifies a shift in the housing market’s balancing act: we have a heck of a lot of existing inventory in America’s weaker housing markets. The number of housing completions is down too and estimated 21% year over year. For homeowners, that’s great news. Many economists believe that we are bouncing off the bottom. We will continue to see home price volatility, but it’s
unlikely we are going to experience further general market price decreases, particularly in Northern Virginia, New Homes Prince William County,Suburban Maryland and Washington DC.
Double-Rip Rubble Dip… the Propaganda Meisters who are prolonging this crises are the same doomsday wonderboys who surgically engineered the housing calamity. Students of US history know this term “Double Dip” was coined in the Great Depression, and most of us know which PHD (PiledHigher and Deeper) Helicopter B-banker studied this era.
Yes the market has been challenged for the past several years and prices have tanked in much of the nation since
2007. Millions of people still sit on the brink of foreclosure and millions more are struggling to just sell their homes, but in general it is market specific. However, in Washington DC metro we are experiencing shortages in the more popular neighborhoods. Particularly hot is housing along the new Orange Line connecting Falls Church to Dulles Airport between Tysons Corner, Reston and Herndon Virginia, .
Most general real estate news is national market prognosis, the Washington DC Metro Area is the strongest housing market in the nation and homes priced below $600,000 are experiencing multiple contract bids. We all look forward to a better 2011 and bye George, real Change in 2012.