Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Home Prices Increase Two Months in a Row

From Bloomberg:

U.S. home prices rose 0.7 percent in February from January, the first consecutive monthly gain in two years, a sign that low interest rates may be moderating declines in real estate values.

Prices fell 6.5 percent in February from a year earlier, the second-smallest drop in six months, led by a 19 percent decrease in the region that includes California, the most populous U.S. state, the Federal Housing Finance Agency in Washington said today. The gain in February from a month earlier matched the average of 10 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Mortgage rates have tumbled 1.6 percentage points in six months, making houses and condominiums more affordable. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of applications to purchase a home or refinance a loan increased 5.3 percent last week as Americans took advantage of interest rates near record lows. Home sales rose 5.1 percent in February from a month earlier, the National Association of Realtors said March 23.

“As demand firms, and once inventories of houses and a broad range of goods are brought into line with sales, economic activity should begin to stabilize,” Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn said in an April 20 speech in Delaware.

The inventory of properties on the market fell to a 9.7 month supply in February at the current sales pace, down from April’s high of 11.3 months, and sales rose 5.1 percent from a month earlier, the Realtors group said.

Personally, I prefer the Case Shiller model. However, this is good news. BUT, take it with a grain of salt. First, sales are rising from very low levels. Secondly, this is only two months of data; the primary trend is still down. When we get a few more months under our belt, then I'll be happy.