Friday, June 24, 2011

From Today's Headlines You Can't Tell What's Up

One of the things that always made me smile as a young newspaperman at one of the Dow Jones daily newspapers was spending time in the “composing room” where the compositors set the type for that day's paper. Back then the type was lead and set generally by Linotype machines. The composing room was always hot and sometimes smokey—remember they used molten lead to make the page castings, and it was noisy as each letter in the entire newspaper had to be properly placed and “locked in”. And of course all the type was set in reverse so it would print correctly, which made it hard to read.

The compositors also set the headlines and depending on their size, most of the headlines were set by hand using individual letters which were usually put away after the paper was printed and saved until either the type was needed and reset or reused. There were some “standing heads” that managed to be used over and over, some were benign, like “Church News” and “High School Honors Scholars”, but there were others that were just as useful, like “Mayor Indited” or “Tax Increase Debated”. These are also headlines that can be used over and over.

And so it is with real estate today. The following “standing heads” are real and all from this week, they not only contradict one another, but also taken as a group confuse the reader and misstate what is really happening.

Monthly Home Prices Improve April home prices have improved over March...

Existing Home Sales Decline Existing-home sales were down in May as temporary factors and financing problems weighed on the market, according to...

Fannie Mae: Growth slowing but not stalled For 2011, expect 2.5% growth, down from 2.9% in previous forecast and more than a full point below January prediction...

Existing home, condo sales up in May Home sales rose 3% compared to May 2010; condos up 17%. NAR: National sales down 3.8% due to market constraints.

New home sales fell in May Down 2.1% to seasonally adjusted rate of 319,000; median price up 2.6% from April to $222,600

Home Ownership Rates Decline U.S. Home ownership rates have declined and will undoubtedly go lower ...

Lenders repossessed fewer homes in May A slower housing market, bank delays and paperwork problems led to 33% drop compared to May 2010

All-cash buyers scooping up homes Cash continues to be king. NAR reports that 30% of May home sales went to cash buyers

Mortgage Applications Decrease Applications for home mortgages decreased 0.4 percent from one week earlier

FHFA House Price Index rises 0.8% in April It was the first month-to-month price increase since May 2010.

Man, it's no wonder the real estate market is stalled, nobody knows what's going on. The news is good, then bad, then good, then bad. And while it's no secret that the market has been very weak, it's also not totally dead. I offer below a chart that is created by the Englewood Area Board of Realtors, (from data they get from The bars show the number of new listings/pending listings/and sold listings for the week, the taller bars are for the week of May 29-June 4, the shorter bars are for June 5-11.
One the one hand, things are not selling as well this year as last. On the other hand, everything is much cheaper and in Englewood we did close 29 homes last week and 42 the week before, meaning that business is slow, but not stopped. I personally had clients make 4 cash offers on homes last week, time will tell if any are successful and will finally close. If they are accepted they will make their way into the middle “pending” bars on the chart for next week. I'm hoping...

Dane Hahn is a real estate professional in New Hampshire with The Gove Group, in Florida with Tarpon Coast Realty, with offices in Boca Grande, Englewood and Sarasota. He can be reached at or by phone at 941-681-0312; or on the web at

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