Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Glimmer of Good News, But Just a Glimmer

After months of nothing but negative news in the real estate market, the first 14 days of April have brought us some news that is not totally negative. This is what it has come to, new is that not totally negative is now good.

Although the closed sales of single family homes and condominiums still lag the figures from the sale time last year, 27% and 46% respectively, the new sales of single family homes in Monmouth County, those reported under contract for the month, are about the same as last year. Keep in mind last year was bad, so to say it hasn't gotten worse in the first 14 days of the month isn't saying much, but it's better than it's been for the first 90 days of the year. Also keep in mind that 14 days does not make a trend and the new sales of condos is still running 30% behind the first 14 days of April 2008.

People continually ask us if things are getting "better". By "better" most are asking about what the prices are doing. The short answer is they are still going down. People want to know when they will stabilize. They won't stabilize until sales improve to soak up the excess inventory that is putting the negative pressure on prices. Before sales can improve, the have to stop going down. The first 14 days of April, at least as it applies to single family homes, gives us a glimmer of hope that the sales may, and I say may, be bottoming out.

Once they bottom out, they won't necessarily start to improve but at least it is a step in the right direction. We will see what the rest of the month as to hold and then see what May, June and July have to offer. Keep in mind that a modest increase in sales will not fix the problem. The oversupply relative to demand is so great that sales will have to improve significantly to reach a point of price stability. But we have to start somewhere, and maybe this is the start.

Only time will tell. Keep your fingers crossed.

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