35.3 percent. By any measure, a staggering number. It is by how much new home sales have dropped from July 2007.
But we are in one of those wierd times when figures seemingly contradict one another and “trends” are hard to keep up with.
For example, while it is true that new home sales are down more than 35 percent since July 07, last July sales of new homes actually went up, though not much…2.4 percent, according to the Commerce Department.
Here’s the catch,though.
The National Association of Realtors, says the Associated Press, reports the “number of unsold properties hit an all-time high, an indication that the worst housing slump in decades is far from over.”
Why the confusion?
When things are in flux–especially the economy–it is not all that uncommon for “trends” to seemingly contradict one another. But that often has less to do with the reality of the situation than with the way in which we tend to see the world–in terms of black and white, rather than many shades of grey.
For instance, another new report just out–Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index–shows that home prices dropped by the sharpest rate ever in the second quarter–15.4 percent during the period April to June, reports the A.P.’s economics writer Jeannine Aversa.
But, of course, it is this very drop in home prices that has brought about a mini-buying boom in parts of Southern California for people with excellent credit who are seeking and getting houses at relatively cheap prices. See what I mean about shades of grey?
Adding to this period of flux and uncertainty is the open question of what will eventually happen with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Both have an enormous impact on mortgages and both, some fear, may soon be in dire need of the very government bailout they claimed only a few months back they didn’t want nor need.
What happens with Fannie and Freddie will , to a large measure, help define the housing situation in this country for some time to come…their fate is THAT important.
In the meantime, we all have to take headlines with a grain of salt…The headline of Monday will surely be challenged if not flat out contradicted by the headline of Tuesday…and on it goes.
Like I said, things are in flux. Uncertainty rules!