Last year the mainstream media was happy to dismiss any healthy signs in the real estate market, saying it was all due to the housing tax credit. Over the next few months, the national existing-home sales and prices will be compared to last year’s stats – will there be any mention of the tax credit now?

From Reuters, via cnbc.com:

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell unexpectedly sharply in February and prices touched their lowest level in nearly nine years, implying a housing market recovery was still a long ways off.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday sales fell 9.6 percent month over month to an annual rate of 4.88 million units, snapping three straight months of gains.

The percentage decline was the largest since July.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected February sales to fall 4.0 percent to a 5.15 million-unit pace from the previously reported 5.36 million unit rate in January, which was revised slightly up to 5.40 million.

The median home price dropped 5.2 percent in February from a year earlier to $156,100, the lowest since April 2002.

“If the price declines persist, even with the job market recovery, that could hamper recovery in the housing market,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

Compared with February last year, sales were down 2.8 percent.

At February’s sales pace, the supply of existing homes on the market rose to 8.6 months’ worth from 7.5 in January.  A supply of between six and seven months is generally considered ideal, with higher readings pointing to lower house prices.

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San Diego County is faring better than national, and the detached-home market in NSDCC looks very healthy – here are the local numbers from today’s MLS:

San Diego County Detached and Attached

Month # of Sales Avg$/sf SP:LP DOM
Feb ’10
2,210
$229/sf
99%
66
Jan ’11
2,050
$217/sf
97%
83
Feb ’11
2,080
$227/sf
97%
86

The San Diego County stats for February, 2011 show that sales were +1% month-over-month, and -6% year-over-year. The pricing was +5% month-over-month, and flat for year-over-year.

The longer “days on market” stat helps to demonstrate how overly-optimistic the sellers are on price, and how reluctant they are to come down. By the time your house has been on the market 86 days, the buyers have forgotten all about you – unless you dump on price to re-ignite the urgency.

North San Diego County Coastal Detached

Month # of Sales Avg$/sf SP:LP DOM
Feb ’10
143
$376/sf
96%
78
Jan ’11
148
$365/sf
95%
85
Feb ’11
162
$376/sf
96%
90

February sales were +9% month-over-month, and +13% year-over-year. The average cost-per-square-foot was mostly flat. North SD County Coastal was less affected by the tax credit, if at all. We just keep cruising!

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Jim the Realtor
Jim is a long-time local realtor who comments daily here on his blog, bubbleinfo.com which began in September, 2005. Stick around!

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