How about a little good news on the housing front, for a change? Signs of economic improvement were reported in 30 housing markets, up from 23 markets a month ago, as tracked by the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, and First American Financial Corp. Texas, in particular, fared well with eight of its cities marking an improvement.
The 30 markets have improved in three economic indicators over the past six months: home prices, employment growth and housing permit growth. The Wall Street Journal reported that Sumter, S.C., had a 10 percent increase in home prices since second quarter 2010. Other markets that improved were Bismarck, N.D.; Williamsport, Pa., and the eight in Texas, including Odessa, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, McAllen, Sherman, Tyler, Midland and Waco.
Unfortunately, taken as a whole, housing news is still disappointing. The latest data from the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, shows that home prices continued to fall in 75 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas. Of the 150 cities tracked by the NAR, prices rose in only 39 of them in the third quarter.
The results are roughly the same as the second quarter, but compared with a year ago, the national median price dropped 4.7 percent to $169,500. Once home sales recover, prices will stabilize, according to a statement by NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
Until then, we keep the champagne on ice and hope. The economy is still weak, distressed properties account for nearly a third of home transactions and buyers are staying on the sidelines.
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