Mixed Message On Markets

Data from the third quarter relative to new and existing homes sales, along with the rise in home prices in a majority of the metro real estate markets, would indicate that the housing market has probably hit bottom and made a positive turn upwards in the right direction.

However, information from RealtyTrac® (www.realtytrac.com) indicates that the overall housing market is still sending some mixed signals as to where the housing market bottom is, and has it yet turned positive.  RealtyTrac is the leading online data source for foreclosure properties and as recently as October released an exclusive report on the overall health of local housing markets nationwide, as compared to four years ago.  The report is titled “Election 2012 Housing Health Check.”

The report, in looking at more than 900 counties nationwide, found that “65 percent of local housing markets nationwide are worse off than four years ago.”  Now it should be understood that the metrics used in the report did not include only those of home sales (new and existing), home prices and mortgage interest rates, those metrics that seem to clearly point to a positive market trend.

According to the report the elements used in assessing the health of the housing market nationwide included looking at five key metrics. These metrics included average home prices, unemployment, foreclosure inventory, foreclosure starts and the share of distressed sales.

Not all counties nationwide had data on all five metrics.  Of the 919 counties that had all metrics in place, 580 (65 percent) showed that the local market was worse off in at least 3 of the 5 metrics than it was four years ago.  Conversely, 315 counties (35 percent) showed that they were better off than they were four years ago, also in at least 3 of the 5 metrics.

Some other key findings in the report appear to support the idea that the market is on a less than a solid foundational rebound.

According to the report, in a majority of the counties nationwide home prices are down from four years ago. In addition unemployment figures, compared to four years ago, are up in more than 90 percent of all counties.

Granted home prices are lower than four years ago, but they are higher than one year ago with prices averaging an increase of 7.6 percent nationally as of the third quarter.

On a positive note the report showed that a little more than half of all counties documented a lower foreclosure inventory and fewer foreclosure starts as compared to four years ago.

Though this data may paint a  ‘glass-half-empty’ scenario, in fact the rise in home sales, both existing and new, plus the rise in home prices nationwide really do point to a better ‘glass-half-full’ picture.