Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October Housing Stats Dim, But Better Winter Ahead?

October resale housing sales lag behind September's which were some of the lowest in recent memory.  September sales were 3,404 while October fell to 3,086. True, it's not over till the fat lady sings, but I doubt we'll add another 500 closings Valleywide in the few remaining business hours of today. Inventory is up too, with active listings at 58,106.

It "feels" better out there lately, with Open House visitors saying they intend to buy before year's end, and showings on my listings continuing at a good pace. Sellers are getting realistic about pricing.  I'm having an easier time getting sellers to think about their actual profit between what they paid and what we can sell at now, instead of focusing exclusively on the money they "lost" because of recent price slips.

But the numbers don't support the feeling. Yet. I expect that open housers who say "before the end of the year" will really end up buying in early 2008. Day to day life tends to intervene and things get away from us unless there's a sense of urgency.

There's not much in today's housing market to cause buyers to hurry. Rates remain historically low, inventory is rising, prices continue trickling down and there's general uncertainty in the broader marketplace. Toss in concerns over the Iraqi war and presidential politics, and buyers have good reasons to sit on the sidelines with very few good reasons to jump.

hourglassStill, I'm hopeful that my open house visitors are going to help us turn the tide. I predict purchase numbers will pick up in February & March. Activity usually trends up in the late spring and summer because folks start to think about starting the new school year in a better school district. But I think our usual spring bump could come early this year. Buyers with good reason to dislike where they're living but who were afraid to make a move in 2007 will eventually become buyers in 2008, simply because they tire of waiting.

Fingers crossed!