When Jay Butler Director of ASU’s Realty Studies Center releases and comments on data, the mainstream media jumps.
Catherine Reagor of the Arizona Republic reports in “Home Sales Up but still Sputtering”, and Misty Williams of the East Valley Tribune has a more positive spin writing, “Home Sales Rising so far this Year.”
The gist of ASU’s report is that home sales have climbed steadily this year, but are still depressed from a year ago. Whether this is a typical seasonal pick up, or the beginning of a market shift, only time will tell.
ASU reports 4,335 existing homes were sold in March, up 15.6% from February. But the March 2008 numbers are down 19.5% from March 2007’s 5,385 sales and are the lowest March numbers since 1996 (with 3,270 sales).
The good news from the study is that the median existing home price in the Valley was flat at $220,000.
So, it’s a mixed bag. While everyone would like to see prices rising, in our current market, prices not declining is a good and fairly novel thing.
Reagor did write:
If home sales climb again this month from March’s level, and home prices don’t fall again, it could signal the housing market has hit bottom.
Lots of “if’s”, “and’s” and “could’s” in there, but it is true. And as I said in the Tribune article, I think we’re near the bottom of the pricing decline.
I do of course, reserve the right to be wrong about that. Misty left out the “I don’t have a crystal ball” part…
And if I may rail a moment on the mainstream media (like that’s never happened before…), I find it annoying that neither the East Valley Tribune, the Republic, or the Phoenix Business Journal linked to the source of the ASU data. I searched the ASU Realty Studies home page and found nothing on 2008 numbers. How hard would it be to put a link in an online article? If anyone has the actual data, I’d love to see it.