Brick And Mortar - The New Economy?
Two back to back days of positive housing data have the markets looking a bit optimistic. Pending home sales rose 5.9% in May hitting a two-year high, adding to other recent positive reports from the battered sector including yesterday's S&P/Case-Shiller data showing U.S. home prices rose 1.3% in April.
If tonight's blog had a soundtrack > the Commodores unforgettable Brick House.
Before we get too carried away let's not forget that this is the same Brick and Mortar business, along with a few shady bankers, that played a huge role in creating the current economic muck we find ourselves mired in. On today's Live Daily Broadcast we talked about some interesting housing numbers. 3 of the hardest hit areas in the nation - Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Miami, all have what appear to be very low inventories of available single family homes.
- Las Vegas - 5,211 (6 week supply)
- Phoenix - 8,800 (2-4 month supply)
- Miami - 11,403 (2-4 month supply)
Shadow Inventory - Fact or Myth?
Many people believe the low numbers are because banks are holding foreclosed homes off of the market in an effort to drive up Valley home prices.
Professor Michael Orr of the ASU Real Estate Studies Department doesn't believe that.
"I actually keep a file of exactly what houses the banks own and what they're doing with them," he said. "When you actually count them out, it's a relatively trivial amount that they actually own that they haven't already listed for sale."
As for banks having a so-called "shadow inventory," Orr said it's just not in the cards.
"It's not possible," he said. "To own a house, you have to have a deed. A trustee doing the foreclosure writes a deed and records it with the county. You can get those and examine them and see when the bank disposes of the property. It's not really 'in the shadows,' it's public information."
If this is true then Brick and Mortar may once again be the oldest game in town, but bear in mind that we are dealing with global economic woes that extend far beyond the beleaguered real estate market.
If inventory really is shrinking, and prices are up by some accounts as much as 33% in certain areas, at current interest rates this looks like a pretty good trade. We said it was attractive 2 years ago. Today it's hard to resist. Keep in mind that the EU Summit starts tomorrow and the Fed will be closely watching the unemployment numbers as a barometer for further easing.
Housing recovery is by no means a day trade, but at the end of the day we all need a place to call home.
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