If you are a town real estate observer, last week was the time of month when you typically look for the major data releases which detail how residential sales and prices performed in the previous month. Local observers weren’t disappointed: last Tuesday, the key National Association of Realtors® report came in right on schedule, with national media interpretations appearing close on its heels.
The NAR decreed that September’s existing-home sales numbers, which showed a 4.7% increase from the month before, indicated a resumption of the momentum that had momentarily faltered. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5,550,000 completed transactions was hailed as a strong rebound, marking the twelfth consecutive month of year-over-year increases.
Realty Today agreed that the “more than expected” sales pace “suggests that the housing market continues to show strength compared to the rest of the economy.” In fact, the increase did contradict expectations from some observers. Their school of thought had been based on the common sense conclusion that if residential real estate price rises continue to outpace wage growth—as it has—the pace of sales would certainly slow. That prediction ran head-on into these latest figures. So much for common sense.
The financial press, which views real estate news from their own perspective, had a slightly different take—one that was equally positive. “Good news abounds,” wrote CNN Money. “After years of flunking, the American housing market finally merits a B+ grade.” The financial publication’s ebullience was based on data which indicated that building activity was picking up “at the fastest pace since the recession.” That meant that the real estate sector had turned an important corner, with “the housing market…finally starting to be a real boost to the U.S. economy—and stock market—instead of a drag.”
The Wall Street Journal gave area real estate watchers an even more upbeat takeaway—going so far as to apply the rarely-invoked ‘surge’ word…twice! “U.S. Existing Home Sales Surge in September,” greeted WSJ readers on Wednesday. It was “a big increase” that put the real estate “market back on track for its strongest year since 2007.” Elsewhere, over the picture of a North Dakota roofer hard at work, another headline blared, “Home Construction Rebounds Amid Surge in Multifamily Units.” With all that ‘surging’ going on everywhere, local readers might have begun to worry about keeping their balance…
But they needn’t have worried—economic writers wouldn’t be performing as expected if they didn’t include at least some hand-wringing. The Journal didn’t disappoint on that score, either. They found one economist, Richard Moody, who complied. “I have this list of things that worry me about how we can sustain this,” he fretted.
If you are a current or prospective area homeowner, national real estate performance is of more than passing interest. I’m here to help you transform your own personal town real estate projections into real performance!