A Few Crumbs of Good Housing News - Housing Tracker

by: Judy Weil

Link of the Day

Bespoke Investment Group analyzes the S&P/Case-Shiller Median Home Price data for February. Not pretty.

House Sales and Price Data

Disappearing Now: $6 Trillion in Housing Wealth. “Center for Economic and Policy Research report, based on Case/Shiller Home Price Index: The annual rate of price decline over the last quarter was 24.9% in the 20-city index and 25.8% in the 10-city index. At this rate… the excesses of the housing bubble will have largely disappeared by the end of the year… The price decline implies an incredibly rapid loss of wealth. In real terms, the rate of price decline in the 20-city index would imply a loss of almost $6 trillion in real housing wealth over the course of the year, an average of $85,000 per homeowner." (LA Times, Apr. 30th)

Shelter Island Estate Sells For $12.4 Million. “The Shelter Island estate once owned by former Gov. Hugh Carey's family topped the town sales record for the second time when the owner flipped it yesterday for $12.4 million to a Swiss financier… Outgoing owner Chris Knight, a Queens-based real estate investor… set a local record early last year by paying $10M for the 1892 Victorian mansion in disrepair and its 7.8 acres on the waterfront. Knight then quickly put it on the market again for $33M, a price that amazed locals and ultimately proved to be too high. He lowered the price to $22.4M late last year.” (Newsday, May 1st)

New Voice In Hamptons Real Estate. “Suffolk Profiles and County records: There were 54 residential sales of $10 million or more last year… George Simpson, President of Suffolk Research: Median prices for single family homes on the East End of Long Island declined from $690,000 in Q1’07 to $665,000 in Q1’08… 709 units [sold in ] Q1’07 to 506 units sold Q1’08. However, [in] Q1’02, the median price of East End homes was $399,000 [rising] to a peak of $690,000 in 2007…[Despite] a decrease in dollar sales, median price [residential vacant land] is up 78.4% to $735,000 per parcel of vacant land over Q1’07.” (Hamptons.com, Apr. 1st)

Still No Light at the End of the Housing Tunnel. “Home prices will likely fall throughout 2008. Before they can stop falling entirely, their declines have to slow down. Because the S&P data is almost two months old, there is hope this may already be happening. Evidence of a slowdown in price decreases is the light at the end of the tunnel.” (Vahan Janjigian in Seeking Alpha, Apr. 30th)

Casden’s Los Angeles M-F Development Leasing Up. “Los Angeles, Calif.: Palazzo Westwood Village in the heart of Westwood Village of Los Angeles is leasing quickly and expected to be full by the end of the year. A total of 350 rental town homes are now occupied. Retailers have signed on for most of the commercial space along Glendon Avenue.” (Commercial Property News, Apr. 30th)

Hamptons Home Prices Decline on Wall Street Job Cuts, Economy. “Prudential Douglas Elliman/ appraisal firm Miller Samuel report: Home prices in the Hamptons, where rich and famous New Yorkers spend summers by the sea, fell in Q1... The median price declined 7.1% to $882,500 and the number of sales dipped 29% from Q4’07… The number of days a home stayed on the market rose 29% from a year earlier to 181. Homes sold for 9.6% less than the original asking price in Q1’08, compared with 3.6% less in Q4’07… In the Hamptons luxury market, defined as the highest 10% of sale prices, the median price increased 5.1% to $5.4 million from Q1’07.” (Bloomberg, Apr. 30th)

Local Real Estate Market Improving After 2007 Slowdown. Upper Rio Grande Valley, Texas: Despite fluctuating prices and reports of a declining market, the Valley's housing market began to emerge from a nine-month slowdown during Q1’08. Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University: Hidalgo County registered 562 home sales during Q1’08, down just a few from Q1’07. Q1’08 [was] the second strongest Q1 on record… The average sale price for homes during Q1’08 [fell] nearly $20,000 from Q4’07… The median sale price for a home in Hidalgo County was $89,400 in March, the lowest since April 2004.There is currently a 14.4-month supply of homes on the local market.” (The Monitor, Apr. 30th)

Tri-City Home Sales Down, Prices Up. Washington: “Local MLS: Home sales in the Mid-Columbia dropped about 22% during Q1’08 compared with Q1’07. Local real estate agents say a long winter with several weeks of snow and ice and continual bad news about the national economy and real estate market are mostly to blame… Home sales dropped from 769 in Q1’07 to 600 during Q1’08. The 22% drop in home sales reflects Q1 sales reported as of Wednesday. Even though sales are down, prices continue to rise. The median price averaged $168,300 during Q1’08, up from $166,500 in Q1’07.” (Tri-City Herald, Apr. 30th)

Glut Of Vacant Homes Gradually Decreasing. Southwest Florida: “Metrostudy: The new-home business in Lee and Collier counties continued to slow down in Q1’08… But the glut of homes is being gradually absorbed because fewer homes are under construction and the number of finished vacant homes is declining… There were 937 finished vacant homes for sale in Lee County, down from… 1,611 in Q4’06. There were 380 housing units under construction… down 30.3% from Q4’07... There were 189 subdivisions [starts] in Q1, compared to 221 starts in Q4’07. There were 1,422 new homes in the pipeline in Collier County in Q1… That’s down 15.4% from Q4’07.” (News Press, Apr. 29th)

Statewide Wyoming Real Estate Steady, Slight Chill in Teton Valley. “New Census numbers show Wyoming is ninth in the nation for the lowest vacancy rate in Q1 (1.7%, compared to 3.2% West-wide), tied with Hawaii and Oklahoma. New energy workers moving into the state have helped the market, as has the reluctance to go hog-wild with new construction. In the Teton Valley… there is a little dip in home sales, although the median price continues to climb. (It’s at $1.1 million.) And, with a proposed moratorium on new building while the county finishes a management plan, those prices might just continue their rise.” (New West, Apr. 29th)

Home Sales Numbers Continue to Weigh on Developers. “Dirk van Dijk, CFA is the Director of Zacks Equity Research: The inventory situation is getting worse, not better... Yes, the absolute number of new homes on the market fell by 1.1% on the month, and is down 14.6% y/y, but that decline is not close to being as large as the decline in sales. The months of supply in inventory is now up to a stunning 11.0 months, a new record for this cycle... In February, the months of supply were 10.2, and a year ago they were 8.3.” (Zack’s.com in Seeking Alpha, Apr. 29th)

St. Louis Home Sales Up From February, Down From Last Year. “St. Louis Association of Realtors: Total home sales in March in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County fell almost 20% compared with sales in March 2007, but were up more than 20% from February. March's average price of $184,130 fell 7.5% compared to an average price of $199,051 in March 2007. The average price last month was up 6.7% from February's average price of $172,515… Illinois Association of Realtors: In Illinois, total home sales fell 29.5% in March compared with sales from March 2007, but home sales did improve by 24.5% from February… The Illinois median price in March was $194,500, down 1.3% from $197,000 in March 2007.” (St. Louis Business Journal, Apr. 29th)

Pinal County Median Home Price Drops In First Quarter. “Since 625 resale homes were recorded sold in 07, the Pinal County resale market has consistently posted improvement, with 1,145 sales in Q4’07and 1,680 sales for Q1’08, well above last year’s 840 sales. Housing activity was good throughout the quarter as shown by the monthly activity — 465 recorded sales in January, 600 sales in February and 620 sales in March. This activity is fairly close to the record 1,785 sales in second quarter 2005. The median price has steadily eroded from $220,000 in Q4’05 to $193,000 in Q3’07 and $156,160 for Q1’08. It was $204,600 for a year ago.” (Arizona State University, Apr. 29th)

Home Prices Swoon Again. “Warren Group: Barnstable County experienced a slightly steeper drop in prices over the same period. The median sales value of a single family home on the Cape last month was $345,000, down nearly 12% from the March 2007 price of $369,000. Statewide sales volume dropped 31.6% in March, as compared to March 2007. On Cape Cod, the number of sales fell less precipitously. Last month, 253 single family home sales were completed, down 19.4% from the March 2007 total of 314 sales.” (Cape Cod Times, Apr. 29th)

Abramovich Plans World's Priciest Home. “Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is planning to convert two Victorian apartment buildings in London's exclusive Lowdes Square into a palatial home for his family worth a staggering £150 million ($295.5M), the Daily Mail reported on Monday. The property will trump the four penthouses that have been sold at One Hyde Park for a reported £100M to become not only London's priciest home, but the most expensive in the world.” (Forbes, Apr. 29th)

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