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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

March 2008 Housing Statistics

A little late this month, but as expected, no changes in the trends from most of the past year.

Supply
New Permits, Starts, and Completions, (PDF): These indexes fell by 40.9%, 36.5%, and 24.5% respectively. This is testament to the lengths to which builders are going in order to decrease inventories. The numbers have looked like this for many months now, with little or no change in months of supply on hand.

Calculated Risk points this out as the lowest levels since 1991, while Housing Intelligence characterizes these numbers as being near the lows for other downturns, perhaps that's a glimmer of hope. Interest Rate Roundup echoes the prevailing sentiment that perhaps this will finally reduce supply and restore balance.

New Home Inventories, (PDF): An 11 month supply, the highest in the last year.

Paper Economy notes sentiment among the builders:
It’s important to understand that sales for the new home market generally peak in the February-April time frame and that this year’s results have been generally disappointing as noted by Sandy Dunn, current president of the NAHB “With the traditional home buying season now well underway, we have not seen the bump in sales activity that we normally would this time of year,”
The all time high is from April, 1980, when new home inventories stood at 11.6 months.

Existing Home Inventories, (PDF): Existing homes now stand at a 9.9 months' supply. By comparison, the year 2005 came in at 4.5 months, while 2006 stood at 6.5 months.

Measures of Demand
New Home Sales, (PDF): 36.6% less than the already depressed numbers from March, 2007. Calculated Risk notes that this is less than half of the normal March patterns, and a record low.

Paper Economy always has graphs and a nice regional breakdown. In the South, new home sales were only down by 25.9% from a year ago.

Existing Home Sales, (PDF): 19.3% less than March, 2007.

Interest Rate Roundup notes that median prices fell 7.7% from a year ago, while Paper Economy in its regional breakdown, points out that sales in the South were down 20%, and median prices down 7.1% from March, 2007. The NY Times provides more detail.

Outlook?

These all boil own to roughly the same thing. Fannie Mae says 2010, Eli Broad of KB Homes says another 20% decline in prices will restore the market. This is not remarkably different from what we noted last month, with statements from Paul Krugman, Robert Samuleson and Merril-Lynch.

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