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Home Sales Prices Rise: Is Anyone Catching It?

After the gloom in the media and on Wall Street about housing values, someone forgot to check the stats!

Recently there have been a lot of stories about isolated areas that have seen 20% reductions in home values. Most agree that these areas saw the highest run-ups over the last few years. What seems to be working is the fact that housing affordability is now driving a reversal. Again, not everywhere, but the stats need to be appreciated. Interest rates are still very attractive and stable these days. In fact, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported increased mortgage applications and listed stable rates as an indicator.

The National Association of Realtors has now reported four straight months of rising housing prices, but it seems no one is listening.

According to NAR statistics, the median home price has fallen from a high of $230,200 in July 2006 to a low in February 2008 at $195,600, a drop of 15%. Since February, however, it has risen steadily every month. By May the index (which will be revised on July 24) had risen to $208,600, up $13,000, and a full 6.6%. Another indicator, the mean home price (otherwise known as the average home price), has also shown strength and has risen from a low of $242,000 also in February of this year to $253,100, a rise of $11,100 or 4.5%. It has also risen every month since February of this year.

‘I just don’t know where Wall Street’s brains are today,’ said David Michonski, CEO of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy in New York City. ‘Everyone on the Street is wringing their hands over housing when in fact the average American has been out this spring buying homes and pushing the median price higher. This has got to go down as one of Wall Street and Main Street’s biggest disconnects in history. Rising prices on expanding volume should not a crisis make on Wall Street,’ says Michonski.

Is this the bottom?

No one can know for sure, but the hard data is clear. The median price has risen four straight months. The average American is out there taking advantage of bargains in their local real estate market. They are not listening to Wall Street but following their own belief that the best time to buy is when no one else is, and they are out there buying. If this keeps up, February may prove to have been low in prices.

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