The Housing Chronicles Blog: More good news on the housing market?

Monday, May 4, 2009

More good news on the housing market?

Given the length of the housing bust, it's easy to see why people would want to declare any good news on the economy as the sign of a rebound. So is the latest news on the rise in construction spending and pending home sales simply a blip or the beginning of a better trend? From an AP story via the L.A. Times:

Hopes that the recession is easing got a boost Monday from reports that construction spending and pending home sales both fared better than expected in March.

The Commerce Department said construction spending increased 0.3% in March, the best showing since a similar rise last September. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected spending to drop 1.5% for a sixth straight monthly decline...

Meanwhile, the National Assn. of Realtors said its index of pending home sales rose 3.2% to 84.6 in March, the second straight monthly increase after it hit a record low in January. The pending sales index also is 1.1% above last year's levels. Typically, there is a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a done deal, so the index is a barometer for future home sales.

The demand for new homes appears to be recovering faster than that for previously occupied homes. In March, sales of pre-owned homes fell 3% to an annual rate of 4.57 million from a downwardly revised pace of 4.71 homes in February, the National Assn. of Realtors reported.

Economists called the new data faint glimmers of hope that construction activity might be stabilizing, although at very low levels...

Economists, however, cautioned that the construction rebound could be temporary, given all the problems facing the industry as a severe financial crisis has made it hard for builders to obtain financing.

Spending on private residential projects fell 4.2% in March, the latest in a series of declines that began three years ago when the housing bubble burst with disastrous effects for the home industry and the overall economy...

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