This morning’s record low in new home sales is shedding some light on just how bad the housing market is. Although I’ve long expected a double dip I am actually surprised by how poor the housing data has been in the early portion of this year. At this time of year we are generally beginning to see some improvement in the market, but this number was beyond abysmal. That ugly numbers from this morning:
- 250K annual rate vs expectations of 290K.
- All regions were down.
- This is a record low.
- Median prices fell 14% to $202,100.
- Supply on the market ROSE to 8.9 months.
For Diana Olick at CNBC (one of the absolute very best financial news reporters around) the news is the nail in the double dip coffin and the risks are mounting. She states:
“Unfortunately the cons are going to prevail for a while:
- Supply supply supply. Too much. Can’t overstate that.
- Foreclosures. Banks are pushing properties through the foreclosure process at a really rapid pace now. I’m also hearing they may be ramping up sales ahead of any settlement with nation’s attorney’s general over the so-called “robo-signing” paperwork scandal. More foreclosures on the market means more supply and more price pressure.
- Gas prices: See yesterday’s blog post. It’s real.
- Mortgage applications. They are way below historical norms. All cash buyers in February rose to a record 33 percent of all buyers of existing homes. Many many Americans simply can’t qualify for a mortgage anymore at a reasonable rate.
- FHA: Next month the cost of an FHA loan goes up yet again. FHA loan volume dropped 26 percent in February month to month.
- Consumer sentiment: Awful. No confidence in this market. Only the investors are out in droves, looking for and getting bargains. We need them, but we need real buyers as well.
You think I’m a bear? I’m a realist. I’ve been warning of a double dip for months, as many of you ‘disagreed’ with me on the blog. At the turn of the year, hearing about some energy in the market and some improving sales numbers at least, not prices, I tried to look at the bright side; perhaps things were improving with more jobs and more buyer traffic? You all didn’t seem to like that either. Well I’m calling it like I see it now, and I see a double dip.”
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.