We told you the other day how home sales were up in March over a year ago (and have been posting such gains for nine months now), and NAR is reporting that inventory nationwide is down 21.8% from March 2011.
So what’s the deal? According to the Wall Street Journal, the reasons are threefold.
First, although prices are down closer to their historical norms, people remember 2005 — and don’t want to sell so far off the market peak (even if prices may not get back to those levels for decades). “That’s especially true for the roughly 15% of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage.”
When we moved to Virginia from Columbus, Ohio, we had a garage sale, and at 7:00 AM there were already people showing up. Yay! One man picked up an electric drill that was marked for $20. “Will you take $10?” he asked.
I looked at him. “Dude, it’s seven o’clock. Maybe later you can ask for a break.” Some people just automatically think they know a buyers’ market when they see it.
On May 17, thousands of Realtors from across the country will converge on Washington D.C., in front of the Capitol, Washington Monument (location moved to accomodate the thousands of rally registrants!), sending a message no one can misunderstand:
We are Realtors, we are strong, and we are here to protect the American Dream. We’ve had enough of nay-sayers, we’ve had enough of political gridlock, we’ve had enough of attacks on housing. And we’ve had enough of confusing bureaucracy and skittish lenders.
Of course you are! But just in case someone you know isn’t quite as prepared as you are…
Nationwide Open House Weekend is April 28-29.
It’s just what it sounds like — gadzillions of Realtors across the country will hold open houses on the same weekend. Take advantage of NAR’s promotional muscle, because that weekend is gonna see a lot of press.
And don’t forget (says NAR) to use the opportunity to remind people of the benefits of home ownership!
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun paid a visit to Lynchburg today for an economic summit, and took the opportunity to remind people how the housing market is recovering, and that it’s “inevitable” there will be an increase in home sales.
FHFA acting director Ed DeMarco finally gave in to pressure from, well, everyone and said that principal reduction for underwater mortgages might be a good idea after all.
The FHFA oversees Fannie and Freddie, and DeMarco had said that the two GSEs could not allow principal write-downs on loans they backed, arguing (at the time) that it would be too damaging to their bottom lines.
An AOL Real Estate story reports that a recent poll found that 72 percent of respondents said that they want Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to stop buying mortgages from banks.
The Federal Housing Administration is holding off on its new rule that would prevent anyone with more than $1,000 in collections to qualify for federal backing.
It seems FHA got an earful from, well, everyone. In this economy, saying that anyone with more than $1,000 in dispute with a creditor disqualifies you … well, that eliminates a lot of people. First-time buyers were going to be hardest hit.
Barry Ritholtz’s column in the Sunday Washington Post is all about why — despite what may seem to be obvious signs — there really isn’t a housing recovery in the works. Those signs, he argues, show up every spring.
"Ahhh, winter is finally over," he writes. "Each year about this time, flowers push up through the soil, trees begin to bud – and the stories about a real estate recovery appear."
He’s got three arguments against it: