October 30, 2006
-- by Dave Johnson
September sales of existing homes totaled 6.16 million, down from 6.3 million in August, and down from 7.2 million in September 2005.So, is blood running in the streets yet? After a small trickle of bad news in the biggest runup of privces in history? With prices STILL more than double where they hould be? With the "creative financing" mortgages starting to come due next year? I think not.
The inventory of unsold homes hit 7.3 million units in September, up from 4.6 million homes listed for sale in the same month a year ago. (And there might be many more sellers waiting in the wings, who plan to list their home when the market "recovers.")
Prices are falling, too. The National Association of Realtors reported the biggest drop in home prices since it began tracking the data in 1968. The median sale price slipped 2.2 percent to $220,000 in September following a 2.2 percent decline in August. These two declines are the first time median home prices have fallen since 1995.
... So, is it time to buy? The smart money says it's time to buy when everyone wants to sell, or as they put it on Wall Street: when blood is running in the streets.
... But while analysts and economic eminences see a trough, data reports point to more gloom ahead. In the third quarter, the biggest drop in homebuilding investment since 1991 slowed economic growth to its worst pace in more than three years, an Oct. 27 report showed. New home sales rose in September, but the median price of a new home fell by nearly 10% in the biggest one-year drop since 1970, according to the Census Bureau on Oct. 26.
... While the housing slowdown may not wind up crippling the economy the way some pundits feared, many analysts say its effects aren't finished just yet.
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