When the national housing market numbers bottom out and start to improve again, will anyone tell us?
That’s a sobering question to have to ask. But based on media coverage of last week’s national report on new foreclosure filings, it’s relevant.
You may have seen the headlines or caught the news on network coverage: Foreclosures were up dramatically from year — ago levels — a scary 68 percent! But they’ve been up by big margins compared with 2006 — even above 100 percent — all year as subprime adjustable rate loans began hitting their first payment jumps.
But the year-to-year numbers were only part of what the research company that issued the foreclosure survey actually found. RealtyTrac, which specializes in gathering information on new foreclosures nationwide, reported that new filings in November DROPPED by 10 percent from October’s pace — the first double digit decline since April 2006.
In other words, 10 percent fewer home owners began the horrible process of losing their homes and equity in the latest month.
Yet major media outlets emphasized the negative — missing what may have been a turning point in the foreclosure tide. If you tuned into NBC’s Today Show the morning after RealtyTrac’s announcement, you never heard a word about the 10 percent drop.
If you received the Associated Press’s “Executive Morning Briefing” on business issues, you never got a clue.
So let us state for the record: For the first time in 19 months, new foreclosure filings dropped last month by a double digit rate. That could prove to be a statistical oddity, or it could be the beginning of a trend. We will see in 2008. You heard it here.
Meanwhile, there was continuing softness in the latest new housing starts numbers from the Commerce Department: New housing starts dropped by 3.7 percent last month and new permits for starts dropped by 1.5 percent. With a 10 month inventory of houses still to sell, is it any surprise that builders are not starting new ones?
The big positive news in the housing picture continues to be interest rates — 30 year mortgages just over 6 percent, the FHA mortgage program booming, and the Federal Reserve keeping downward pressure on short term rates.
Low housing prices and low mortgage rates — that’s a combination that is certain to turn local markets around. The only question is when — first quarter 2008? Mid 2008? Or later?
Stay tuned, we will update you on the market conditions as we see them…
Article by Kenneth R. Harney @ Realty Times