Wednesday, January 19, 2011

DataQuick: SoCal Homes Sales increase in December

by Calculated Risk on 1/19/2011 06:15:00 PM

From DataQuick: Southern California Home Sales End 2010 Up from November, Down from ‘09

Southland December home sales shot up more than usual from November but fell well short of last year as a sluggish job market, tight credit, and record-low new-home sales undermined the market.
Ultra-low mortgage rates, coupled with lower prices, gave the market a boost this fall, helping to explain the above-average gain in closings between November and December. We still see the potential for sales to perk up this spring if rates stay low and brighter economic news lifts consumer confidence. ... ” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

“Looking back at 2010, it’s hard to ignore the ongoing slump in the Southland’s new-home market,” he continued. “Last year we saw the lowest sales by builders in two decades – less than half the annual average since 1988. 2009 wasn’t much better. What happens next will hinge largely on the pace of the economic recovery and the manner in which lenders manage their inventories of distressed properties, which are competition for new homes.”
The NAR will release Existing Home Sales for December tomorrow morning. The consensus is for sales of 4.9 million at a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) in December, up about 5% from the 4.68 million SAAR in November. Economist Tom Lawler is projecting sales of 5.13 million SAAR in December.

In addition to sales, the level of inventory and months-of-supply will be very important (since months-of-supply impacts prices). The months-of-supply will probably be in the low 8 months range, down sharply from the 9.5 months reported for November. However some of the decline is seasonal, and inventory should increase again in February.