The S & P/Case-Shiller report on the housing market came out today. There were a couple of highlights worth mentioning. First was the fact that we have had 4 straight months of price appreciation. “With July’s data we are seeing not only anticipated monthly increases, but some fairly broad improvement in the annual rates of change in home prices,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices.
At this point, I’d like you to picture a miniature me on your shoulder whispering my italicized comments in your ear.
(Me) Hmmm… fairly broad improvement in homes price…
The report also said that mortgage defaults were declining too; “The S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default indices showed a continuing decline in mortgage default rates, a two-year trend.
(Me) Declining default rates too? Geez, how come that’s not what we keep hearing on the news?
Apparently, even though it’s been reported that the real estate market has been, “dans les toilettes” – that’s French for, in the Toilet – we’ve somehow got an increasingly inspired market on our hands: “As with May and June’s reports, we saw some unusually large revisions across some of the MSAs… with the revisions showing a much healthier market than previously thought…Our sales pairs data indicate that this market reported a lot more sales in May and June, which caused the revisions…”
(Me) More sales than originally reported; a much healthier market; could it be the housing market is actually starting to recover?
Of course as is always the case with these statistical reports, even Case-Shiller, could be wrong and as these things go, they will generally find a way to hedge rather than come out and commit to something really positive. In today’s report however, their hedge may actually be the crystal ball we always wanted: ” However, if you look at the state of the overall economy and, in particular, the recent large decline in consumer confidence, these combined statistics continue to indicate that the housing market is still bottoming and has not turned around… ”
(Me) The housing market is still bottoming – bottoming as in a process of nearing the bottom? …Not turned around, that’s not the same as declining is it? It sure sounds different…
Case-Shiller went on to say, and this I thought was the real gem in the crystal ball, “Continued increases in home prices through the end of the year and better annual results must materialize before we can confirm a housing market recovery.”
(Me) So if we see the rest of the year play out with continued increases in home prices Case-Shiller is going to confirm the housing recovery? That’s only a handful of months! That means if you don’t buy soon you’ll have missed the bottom and have to buy after the recovery has started? Does that mean interest rates are going to rise? Holy missed opportunity Batman, you better call your real estate broker now!
Well, that’s how I read the report anyway.