The Long-Term Trendline For Existing Home Sales Points To A Housing Recovery

Existing Home Sales July 2009The 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:

  1. Sales volume rose over four straight months for the first time in 5 years
  2. Sales volume rose year-to-year for the first time in 4 years
  3. 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.