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New home sales: 'Really good news'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales of newly constructed single-family homes spiked 11% in June to an annualized rate of 384,000 homes, according to a report released Monday.

The gain over May was much greater than expected. A consensus of housing industry analysts had forecast seasonally adjusted sales of 352,000, according to Breifing.com.

However, sales are still 21% below the levels of a year ago, when new homes sold in June at an annualized rate of 488,000, according to the report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Four years ago, during the height of the housing boom, the sales rate for June was 1,374,000, nearly three-and-a-half times higher than last month.

Still, the report was very positive, according to Peter Morici, an economics professor at the University of Maryland who had forecast June sales to be at the 350,000 level. "That is really good news. Considering what's going on in existing home sales, with all the foreclosure activity sending down home prices, for new homes to jump like that is a good indicator that the economy is bottoming out."
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Vacation Home Blog and News

March 8, 2009

Have Some Areas Already Hit Bottom?

Filed under: Economy,Vacation Home Market — Tags: , — Jim Marks @ 3:13 pm

It’s tough to say, but some of the most recent data in my neck of the woods suggest we have. Up here on the Maine/New Hampshire border, we’re in vacationland. There are more vacation homes in this area than primary homes. And, our market generally depends on how well the local metropolitan areas are doing (those within a 4 hour driving range are the most likely vacation home buyers).

The most recent data shows that of 14 markets in New England, the hardest hit area lost 8% value in the median sales of homes in 2008. But, what’s most interesting is that during the last quarter of 2008, 10 out of 14 metropolitan markets in New England saw appreciation in their markets. Nothing stunning; these gains were no higher than 1.4% for the quarter, and were generally a fraction of a percent. But here’s the kicker: the last quarter of 2008 was during the worst economic news imaginable. Prices of homes were going up after the September nosedive of the economy, where we’re still spiraling now.

As for the vacation home market up here, January was worse than ever. But February brought an abrupt change. And this week, we’ve had two properties with multiple offers that are very much in line with market values. One of these properties has been on the market for two years without an offer, then suddenly two in one weekend? And, this property is in the $700K range. Are people dumping their stocks entirely? Hmm… The other property was priced about 5% less than the only similar property that has sold in that development, and that sale was 19 months ago.

One thing that people need to remember is that real estate markets are nearly always evaluated by “median” sales. If the median home sales figure is $200,000 in a given area, that means that half of the homes sold were below this figure, and half were above. So, it really is a very poor indicator of home values in any given area. To demonstrate this, if buyers were focusing mostly on starter homes and the lowest end of the market, the median value would be very low. Likewise, if people were buying the million dollar homes and ignoring the rest, it would bring the value way up. In either case, it would be out of proportion.

At any rate, if 10 of the 14 major metro areas in New England saw appreciation in the last quarter of 2008, then people are starting to buy more expensive homes. Are you in a vacation home market? Check the metropolitan areas closest to your location.


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