The full Credit Suisse survey with city-by-city remarks: Industry_Realtor_Survey_04-12-2012
Better traffic and lean inventory levels support stable prices:
We saw our price index reach into positive territory in our March Survey of Real Estate Agents, the first time we have seen the price index at this level survey-wide since 2005. The better pricing environment will likely further buyer confidence, which has already been strengthening as of late. We also saw continued strong traffic, declining inventory, and a shorter time needed to sell homes – all positive indicators.
Price index exceeds 50 (first time turns positive):
Our home price index reached 50.2, the first time that it has exceeded 50 (a level that would indicate flat prices) in seven years. We recognize that this is barely above 50, but given the dismal trends in recent years, it seems appropriate to make note of it. In addition, the continued favorable affordability, rising rents, and improving confidence lead us to expect this trend to continue in the upcoming months.
Traffic index continue ahead of agents’ expectations:
Our buyer traffic index increased to 63.0 in March, up slightly from 62.3 in February. This high level of traffic is meaningful, for two reasons. First, we traffic above expectations in March (when expectations are higher than in February) is significant. Secondly, as the environment improves, expectations will likely increase (aside from seasonality) so we are pleased to see the traffic index well above 50 for the second consecutive month, and now the highest level since we started the survey. The continued strength in traffic coupled with the higher prices suggests that the strength is not a function of the better-than-normal weather this winter and spring.
Inventory falling, counter to the normal seasonal trend:
Our home listings index registered 62.9 in March, essentially unchanged from 62.6 in February. However, any level above 50 points to declining inventory (a positive for pricing, although not as positive for those searching for homes), and inventory levels typically increase in the spring season.
Time needed to sell a home continues to decline:
Our time-to-sell index improved to 62.0 in March, up from 55.9, in February (readings above 50 point to shorter times needed to sell). This is the best predictor of future pricing trends as it is a function of both inventory and traffic, and this is just the second month since we started the survey in which we have seen a reduced time needed to sell a home (February was the first month).