This Week’s Housing Reports Offer Many Views, Even More Questions

On Monday, housing information from the National Association of Realtors offered hope that the housing situation might be turning around. Existing home sales, the organization said, had increased for the first time in seven months.

However, we’re always cautiously optimistic at best–and given the housing data released today, that seems like a solid place to stand. The new data provided further insight, such as:

  • Single-family home prices were down 11.4 percent in January from 2007 levels in 10 major metropolitan areas, according to the
    S&P/Case-Shiller home-price indexes released Tuesday by New
    York-based Standard & Poor’s.
  • The overall 20-city composite index dropped 10.7 percent from 2007 in January. The January-to-December decrease was 2.4 percent. Miami and Vegas–two areas hardest hit by the housing slump–had the biggest drops.
  • The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said today that home prices fell 3 percent in January from a year ago. Home prices dropped 1.1 percent from December to January; New
    England showed the most severe declines.

Both reports painted a fairly bleak picture. Home prices fell year-on-year, and home prices fell from the month prior.

The new information also showed that the problem is still widespread. Note that one source found the deepest declines in the Southwest and in southern Florida; the other found home price problems were biggest in the Northeast.

A number of news outlets today, such as the Chicago Tribune, noted the possibility–based on yesterday’s National Association of Realtors data–that the housing slump might finally be turning around.(Although most were also quick to note it was too soon to tell.) Wall Street even got a boost from the news.

However, given today’s reports, it doesn’t seem like we should be celebrating just yet.

Because–in addition to the weak housing news–the Conference Board said today that the majority of the country doesn’t feel very comfortable with the current economy. People also aren’t too hopeful about its future. The board’s Consumer Confidence Index dropped from a revised 76.4 in February to 64.5 in March.

And that news did not give the markets a boost. In fact, it brought the dollar to new daily lows against other currencies, reported this morning.

So we wonder: Did yesterday’s news inspire you to hope the housing situation might be about to improve? Did today’s news make you think it won’t? Tell us what you think…