Statistics are what you make of them, but sometimes, they can provide good perspective.
For example, from its peak in 2005 to its trough in late-2007, the number of "used" homes sold nationwide plunged.
- In 2005: Roughly 7 million homes sold annually
- In 2007: Roughly 5 million homes sold annually
Through all of 2008, though, Existing Home Sales volume has been essentially flat. Some months up, some months down, but always hovering near the 5 million unit mark.
The data from September is no different.
For the 13th consecutive month, the number of home resales nationwide straddled the 5 million benchmark, clocking in at 5.18 million units. This tells us that everyday Americans are still buying and selling real estate at a fairly steady clip -- despite what the news keeps telling us.
Versus August, September sales volume grew by 5.5 percent.
Now, couple this two other data points and we can see that the housing market is showing multiple signs of strength:
- The national home supply is now down to 9.9 months
- The number of homes under contract is up 7.4 percent
Again, though, statistics are what you make of them. Just as there are positive signals about real estate, there are negative ones, too. The credit markets are one example of that.
But, either way, with a full year of stable sales volume behind us and stories of recovery in beat-up markets like California, we can't ignore the idea that housing may be done trolling its bottom.
It takes willing buyers and willing sellers to turnaround a market. It appears that housing may have both.
(Image courtesy: The Wall Street Journal Online)