Housing Market Tracker - 'Relisting' Could Skew Housing Data

by: Judy Weil

Real Estate Sales and House Prices

Bid To Sell City Land Stirs Outcry. "Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa... has pumped $200 million into a city trust fund to build transitional housing for the indigent on skid row and apartment complexes for low-income renters elsewhere in the city. He has used city pension money to expand first-time homeownership programs for teachers, police officers and other middle-income workers priced out of the Los Angeles market. But Villaraigosa said closing the budget shortfall -- $155M this year and as much as $500M in the fiscal year that begins July 1 -- takes top priority. The mayor has called for the sale of [valuable city property]." (LA Times, Feb. 21st)

Best Cities For Bargain Housing: Salt Lake City, Raleigh. "[In] Salt Lake City and Raleigh, N.C. there are plenty of sellers slashing prices, but not because of a lending meltdown... [It's] a buyers' market, where there is healthy job growth and more houses available than people to buy them. This is not due to foreclosures and economic downturn, but to overbuilding that should balance out in time... This is what's happening in Houston... We [also] found soft markets such as Orlando, Charlotte, and Jacksonville, Fla., where the damage from risky lending isn't as drastic as other parts of the country, and where employment growth suggests inventory can burn off at a healthy rate." (USA Today, Feb. 21st)

Housing Starts Rise Modestly. "Commerce Dept.: Housing starts rose 0.8% in January from December to 1,012,000, 27.9% below January, 2007. Single-family starts, however, fell 5.2% to 743,000 and were 33.8% below January a year ago. Permits for housing units fell 3.0% from December to 1,048,000 in January, down 33.1% from the same month in 2007. Single-family permits fell 4.1% from December to 673,000, 40.3% below January 2007. Completions were down 1.8% from December to 1,351,000 in January, a drop of 26.2% from January 2007. Single-family housing completions in January were at a rate of 1,010,000, 1.0% below December and 32.6% below the year-ago rate." (Big Builder Online, Feb. 20th)

Relisting - “It’s Got to Stop”. "Minnesota realtor Joe Niece cancels house listings when they reach 70 days on the market, and then re-lists them as new, with 0 days on the market... So, when the buyer says, ‘Well, how long’s this one been on the market?’ [The listing] report... only shows the current time on the market. Niece: “A buyer’s going to be way more positive as they look through a home that says 25 days versus 125 days.” Real estate blogger James Bednar: "When a re-listed home is sold, it skews market transaction data." Michael Lyon, CEO of Lyon Real Estate, California: One third of all “new” [Sacramento] listings were re-listings." (NJ Real Estate Report, Feb. 20th)

Economy.Com Sees Home Prices Down 20 Percent. "Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Economy.com: [The] rapidly deteriorating U.S. economy will cause home prices to drop by 20% peak-to-trough... [Zandi] expects a recession in the first half of this year [and] said this is a "significant" change from the Moody's Economy.com outlook published in December, which called for a 13% drop. He expects home sales to hit bottom this spring, housing starts to reach a nadir this summer, and house prices to trough in the spring of 2009." (Reuters, Feb. 20th)

Local Housing Market Shows Mixed Signals. Missouri: "In 2007, St. Charles County... average sale prices for existing homes remained flat... Existing home sales dropped 9.3%, and new home sales dropped 8.3% from 2006 to 2007. Nationally, those numbers were 12.8% and 26.4%, respectively. Building permit issuance tracked by the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri fell 6% from 2006 to 2007. During the same period, the St. Louis area as a whole saw an overall decrease in permits of 5%. Compared to 2005, the permits issued in St. Charles County fell 31.7%." (St. Charles Journal, Feb. 19th)

Is Your House Making You Look Fat? "Despite the [housing] situation we find ourselves in today, by 2030 the United States will need, according to the Brookings Institution, approximately 427 billion square feet of built space to accommodate population growth projections." (NY Times, Feb. 18th)

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