Unusually bad winter weather in February curtailed home shopping, slowing sales that closed in March, which may have been dampened further by a decrease in subprime lending volume, according to the National Association of Realtors(R).So how much of a decline was there in March?
After rising for three consecutive months, total existing-home sales --including single-family, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops -- fell 8.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate(1) of 6.12 million units in March from a pace of 6.68 million in February, and are 11.3 percent belowthe 6.90 million-unit level in March 2006.
The spinmeisters as the NAR are hard at work, spinning the latest numbers. Their chief
"For the last couple months we've been expecting a weather 'hit' on home sales finalized in March, but looking at overall activity in the first quarter we see that existing home sales averaged 6.41 million -- a figure that is moderately higher than the sales pace during the second half of 2006," he said. "We also may be seeing some losses as a result of the subprime fallout.However, this is masking improved fundamentals in the housing market, with lower mortgage interest rates and motivated sellers.
"It's too early to measure a significant impact from tighter lending standards, which should moderately dampen activity, but we're still looking for existing-home sales to gradually improve during the last half of 2007,"
The months supply of existing housing has increased 30% from 5.6 months in March 2006, to 7.3 months last month. Inventory of existing homes sales has increased 17.1% since March 2006. Regionally, non seasonally adjusted sales have fallen significantly compared to last year (Year over Year (YoY)):
- West: -16.8%
- Midwest: -11.5%
- South: -16.0%
- Northeast: -6.9%
Hold on Realtors! Not so fast! The worst region for year over year percentage declines for March for existing home sales were in the West. The National Association of Realtors blames "Unusually bad winter weather in February" for "slowing sales that closed in March". However, the weather in the West for the month of February was better then normal. This would put a major whole in the Realtors spin that the weather was to blame for lousy sales. Despite nice weather in the West, there was still a 16.8% percentage decline in home sales compared to March 2006 [which was the largest percentage decline of any region]. See below:
These numbers are lousy. Don't trust the spin the National Association of Realtors puts on their numbers. The US housing market is still undergoing decline. The spring housing season has been lousy for sellers and members of the Real Estate Industrial Complex (REIC).