The housing market got another dose of good news yesterday.
According to the National Association of REALTORS, the number of homes sold in May increased for the third straight month and the national housing supply fell by 5 months.
Furthermore, first-time home buyers are accounting for nearly one-third of the market activity.
But, before we declare a bottom in housing, it’s important that we remember the First Rule of Real Estate:
All Real Estate Is Local
National housing statistics like Existing Home Sales are painted with a very broad brush. They lump disparate locales such as San Francisco and Seattle into one sample set and don’t account for regional differences, let alone neighborhood ones.
Furthermore, getting down to a city-by-city, or even street-by-street basis, we can always find homes that are selling quickly and home that are languishing. Real estate is highly local and subject to countless influences.
That said, the national data isn’t completely useless. From the patterns, we can infer that low mortgage rates, ample home supply and available tax credits are providing a quantifiable boost to the broader real estate market.
And based on recent pending sales data, we can expect June and July’s Existing Home Sales figures to be similarly strong to May.
Therefore, if you’re in the market for a new home right now — or plan to be soon — be conscious of home inventory levels in your target neighborhoods. Fewer homes on the market usually means less ability for buyers to negotiate and that leads to higher sales prices.
Plus, the NAR is reporting buyer activity up 10 percent from last year.
The housing market may not be fully recovered in every housing market just yet, but in studying the data, a lot of the pieces appear to be falling into place.