The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the existing home sales for January ’08. (Click here for report). No big surprise — the sales slide is continuing. Nationally, existing home sales were down 0.4% in January from December, and off 23.4% from January 2007. In the northeast regional, which up until now had generally outperformed the rest of the country, sales dropped 3.6% in January from December, marking a 25.7% fall from January 2007. On the price front, the northeast was a bright spot, with the median sales price up 3.7% from a year earlier, while the nation as a whole posted a 4.6% drop.
Its always interesting to watch the battle of the sound bites from economists after the release of housing data. As can be expected, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, soft peddled the news. “Subprime loans and other risky mortgage products have
virtually disappeared from the marketplace, and over the past five
months, this has been reflected in soft but fairly stable home sales,”
he said. Other economists chimed in with doom and gloom scenarios, using phrases like ‘the housing disaster isn’t over.’ The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
I wonder, though, if negative housing news fatigue isn’t setting in. I noticed today that while the news was still negative, it wasn’t getting the top billing headline treatment on news sites that similar numbers would have merited 3 or 4 months ago. I’m sure it will be covered on the nightly news this evening, but probably won’t be a lead item.
Negative housing news may not be good, but its no longer shocking. That could ultimately prove to be a good thing for the real estate market. Like $3.25 or $3.50 a gallon gas, we’ll adjust to it — as long as whatever level we settle at represents some stability.