Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Summer slowdown? No sign of it in the sales numbers

There's been a lot of speculation about a potential slowdown in home sales this summer after a roaring winter and spring.

But the latest numbers so far aren't backing the idea up.

Pending sales of homes through the end of June were up nearly 30 percent statewide over June 2011. They were also virtually unchanged from May as well, suggesting no meaningful short-term shift in momentum either, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports this morning.

All told, there were well over 5,000 pending sales in June and in May as well - the first time there have been two 5,000-plus pending sales months in a row since MAR began tracking the stat a few years ago.

It's the 14th straight month that pending sales have increased year over year, the real estate group says.

OK, I am lifting a quote here from the MAR press release. Typically I avoid this stuff (press release comments) like the plague, but I thought this was particularly to the point.

"With an early start to the "spring" market because of the unseasonable winter, it was uncertain whether the momentum would continue into the summer," said 2012 MAR President Trisha McCarthy, broker at Keller Williams Realty in Newburyport. "The June pending sales numbers are a good indication that new buyers are continuing to enter the market and making offers on homes."

The big question now is not whether there are buyers out there, but whether there will be enough half-decent homes for them to look at.

As noted a couple days ago, the number of homes on the market has plunged and it is unlikely that we are going to see a rush of new sellers put their homes up for sale during the languid days of July and August.

For sellers though, waiting for the market to further rev up may not be as safe a strategy as it sounds.

Sure, we may very well be at the beginning stages of an upturn that will only strengthen and broaden in the years ahead as the economy gets back into firmer footing.

But what if the debt crisis in Europe winds up being a catalyst for a repeat of September 2008?

If Europe ends up dragging down the world enonomy, then the uptick in sales over first half of 2012 may in hindsight look like a brief window that too many sellers missed.


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