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Housing market finally at bottom?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis June 14, 2012 06:55 AM

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Well if Harvard says it, it must be true.

OK, just kidding. But Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies is not only calling a bottom to the market, but predicting a turnaround in prices as well.

Some job growth and an economy on the mend have been key in brightening the outlook for
housing so far in 2012, the report notes. (Of course, given the latest job numbers, this trend looks pretty tentative at the moment, but that's a debate for another day.)

Here's what the Harvard center's annual report on the national housing market, due for release later this morning, has to say about where prices are headed.

While too soon to tell with confidence, the worst may be over.
According to the CoreLogic March 2012 Home Price Index,
national prices were just 0.6 percent below year-earlier levels.
In fact, some areas saw the pace of declines slow in 2011, while
others posted nominal increases in the first quarter of 2012. For
example, median home prices in Phoenix and Cape Coral registered
gains early this year both from the previous quarter and
from the year-earlier level. Overall, prices in the first quarter
were up in 74 of the 146 metros covered by NAR and 43 of the
top 100 metros covered by CoreLogic.
Furthermore, an alternative index from CoreLogic that excludes
distressed sales (which made up about a third of sales last
year and contributed heavily to the weakness of prices) indicates
that prices climbed for three consecutive months after
the turn of the year, lifting the March 2012 national number 0.9
percent above March 2011. The FHFA Home Price Index, which
is also less likely to include distressed sales, also showed a yearover-
year increase in the first quarter 2012, providing further
evidence that home prices are finally stabilizing

While the Harvard report looks at the national market, separately some Boston area indicators are also pointing up.

The number of single-family homes put under agreement in May - or pending sales - rose 32 percent in May, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported yesterday. Pending sales of condos shot up 35 percent.

That likely means a big bump up in actual sales when those homes and condos officially change hands in July and August.

Meanwhile, the median home price in Greater Boston rose 5.5 percent in May while sales rose more than 21 percent, according to a Redfin report cited by the Globe.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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