EDITOR’S NOTE: Will Home Sales Continue to Rise in Coming Months?

By Keat Foong, Executive Editor At his press conference yesterday, President Barack Obama said that the home sale market is showing evidence of possible improvements. “We’re also beginning to see signs of increased sales and stabilizing home prices for the first time in a very long time,” said the President.  The first thought: It is nice to hear housing, let alone multi-housing or rentals, mentioned by a President in a major address. The second thought: President Obama’s statement is borne out by news that has been reported on. The latest article by MHN Online Editor Anuradha Kher on the condo and coop market, contained in this issue of the newsletter, is stuffed with new insights on this subject (click here to read).The news out in the general press is that home sales, which rose 5.1 percent, is up. But note that these total home sales (for single-family, townhomes, condos and coops) while up, are still at levels that were lower than the same period a year ago. In this regard, sales of condominiums and coops rose a good 11.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in February—but this is still 13.1 percent lower then the 564,000-unit pace in February of 2008.  Nevertheless, the latest insight to keep in mind for now is also that industry officials contend that the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit that has just been enacted will make a major difference in the housing market. Additionally, that housing affordability is at record-highs. These two factors— the record housing affordability and the first-time home buyer tax credit —may push home shoppers into the market in coming months. National Association of Realtors (NAR) President Charles McMillan says that we will see increased sales around late-spring. As Kher reports, the number of buyers looking for homes in February is already 5 percent higher than a year ago. According to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, first-time homebuyers accounted for half of all home sales last month, with distressed homes selling for an average of 20 percent below market.