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Housing Market Data Tilts Slightly Positive

Some housing sales data now shows prices with a slight year over year increase including the NAR’s existing home sales and the Commerce Department’s new home sales data. The NAR data is from February, representing mostly contracts from December. It tells us nothing about the current market. The Commerce Department data is more current, representing February contracts, but it can be skewed by product mix. Real time listings data, which over time has correlated well with subsequently reported sales data, shows listing prices up an average of 3.8% nationally, on a year over year basis as of April 9.

The supply side of the law of supply and demand is working. There’s less supply offered at these low levels and seller asking prices have firmed up because of that. Numerous measures of active inventory show substantial year to year declines. “Shadow inventory” is a hollow threat as more and more of it becomes non-economic or non-functional. But the demand side is hindered by a broken, dysfunctional, dishonest, and even criminal housing finance system. Buyer willingness to buy is often stymied by this system. At the same time, stymied buyers usually keep trying until they are successful.

Most demand markers, while up sharply over the same period last year, remain extremely weak historically. The number of buyers may have increased, but huge numbers of sales are falling through because of problems with financing.

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