The housing market continues to surprise. Last week, the latest good news came in the form of the monthly Existing Home Sales report.
An “existing home” is a home sold by an existing owner as opposed to a developer. It’s non-new construction property.
The data on Existing Home Sales was noteworthy for its trends:
- Sales volume rose over four straight months for the first time in 5 years
- Sales volume rose year-to-year for the first time in 4 years
- Median home prices fell for the first time since April
Furthermore, first-time home buyers and buyers of “distressed” homes accounted for nearly one-third of the market activity each.
But, before we declare a bottom in housing, it’s important that we remember the First Rule of Real Estate — All Real Estate Is Local.
The Existing Home Sales report is not neighborhood-specific. It lumps cities like San Diego and Saint Paul into a giant sample set and fails to account for regional differences in real estate, let alone neighborhood ones.
This is the primary reason why on-the-ground real estate agents are better sources for a market pulse versus a report from a national trade group. The national group can’t know the happenings of every street and every home in a market.
That said, however, the national data isn’t completely useless.
Looking at the long-term patterns in the Existing Home Sales report, we can infer that ample supplies, low mortgage rates and tax credits are spurring home sales in a lot of U.S. markets.
Eventually, this will lead home prices higher.