Monday, April 28, 2008

Crashachusetts Existing Home Sales and Prices: March 2008

Today, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report for March showing, perfectly clearly, the truly grim circumstances that have befallen the Bay State’s housing market.

Whether it was a slow depression brought on by a local economy that has been eroding for over eight years, well over two years of steadily declining home sales and prices, the credit crunch, a looming recession, a palpable increase in inflation of necessities like food and fuel or just simply a change in attitudes toward the notion of a house as a vehicle for untold wealth, the regions housing markets have now hit a dangerous tipping point.

It appears that we have entered the “price freefall” phase of the housing decline where mounting inventory, declining sales, and negative sentiment all combine to result in plunging home prices which, quite possibly, may continue to decline substantially even through the spring and summer months which are typically strong periods in any selling season.

The Massachusetts Realtor leader Susan Renfrew, apparently a bit punch drunk from the shocking results, seems to struggle nonsensically to find the right words to describe the current state of affairs.

“These numbers reflect transactions which began earlier in the year. So, with questions about the economy beginning to accelerate at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 and increased difficulty in accessing credit in the marketplace, we are not surprised by these results in March,”

Timothy Warren Jr., chief executive of the Warren Group, a Boston real estate research and publishing firm, presented a more accurate and sobering view.

"The Bay State's housing market is looking a lot like it did at the end of 1990, … It might be awhile before we pull out of the current housing slump,".

MAR reports that in March, single family home sales plummeted 32.3% as compared to March 2007 with a 4.8% increase in inventory translating to a truly massive 14.1 months of supply and a median selling price decline of 8.4% while condo sales plunged 38.0% with a 1.8% increase in inventory translating to a startling 14.5 months of supply and a median selling price decrease of 5.3%.

Ahead of tomorrow’s release of the S&P/Case-Shiller (CSI) home price index for Boston, a far more accurate and analytical measure of home price movement than the Realtor’s favored median selling price method, take a look at a the most recent Radar Logic data (a comparable dataset updated daily) as it appear that it may be giving an indication of a substantial price decline.

Check back tomorrow as I will post the complete CSI results for Boston specifically charting the decline and weighing its outcome versus the latest readings from Radar Logic.

As in months past, be on the lookout for the inflation adjusted charts produced by for an even more accurate "real" view of the current home price movement.

March’s Key MAR Statistics:

  • Single family sales declined 32.3% as compared to March 2007
  • Single family median price decreased 8.4% as compared to March 2007
  • Condo sales declined 38.0% as compared to March 2007
  • Condo median price declined 5.3% as compared to March 2007
  • The number of months supply of single family homes stands at 14.1 months.
  • The number of months supply of condos stands at 14.5 months.
  • The average “days on market” for single family homes stands at 162 days.
  • The average “days on market” for condos stands at 168 days.