March 2009 results showed for the first time that housing sales are starting to gain traction in all regions across the country. March 2009 housing sales were down only 5.8 percent compared to March 2008 which is best performance on a year over year basis in the last 18 months. While the average price of homes sold fell 14.7% in March 2009 from March 2008, this was also the best price performance in six months.

Home sales showed significant improvement in all regions in March 2009. The results were a welcome surprise in light of other economic news that shows continued weakness in retail sales and employment. While unit sales were down 5.8% from March 2008 to March 2009 that compares very favorably with February numbers that showed sales down 18.1% from February 2008 to February 2009. Also prices of sold homes were down only 14.7 percent from March 2008 compared to the February report that showed closed sales prices being down 22.2 percent.

The best region for sales units was the western region where unit sales continued their run of increased housing activity. Unit sales in the western region were up 18.7 percent compared to March 2008. Other regions saw sales decrease of between 10.3 and 16.2 percent with the Northeast region having the largest unit decline compared to last year. Housing sales improved in every region in March 2009

Prices continue to be soft but improved measurably from the January and February reports. The national average price of homes sold was down 14.7 percent from a year ago. The western region showed the affects of aarge number of foreclosure sales with the average price of homes sold being down 23.0 percent but this was nearly a 50% improvement from the January and February 2009 report. The best region for prices was the south where prices were down only 7.9 percent. Every region had improved price performance from the prior months.

“March 2009 results show that low interest rates, soft home prices and high levels of affordability are countering other more negative news in the economy. Home prices which have been under pressure for three years now are starting to firm somewhat a trend that may continue in the months ahead. The economic picture obviously will continue to have an impact on homebuying. Even with near record low interest rates, rising unemployment will continue to put a break on how fast housing can recover,” said Steve Murray, editor of REAL Trends. “As we said in our last report, there are several factors that will subdue housing sales in 2009. However, it appears that consumers are shaking off the other bad news and returning to the purchase of homes that fit their personal needs. Doubtless, the first-time home buyer tax credit, the loosening of underwriting guidelines for FHA mortgages and the Fed’s intervention to lower rates are all factors assisting with the housing recovery.

REAL Trends Housing Market Report

March 2009 February 2009
(Versus same month a year ago)

Closed Sales AVG Price Closed Sales AVG Price

-5.8% -14.7% -18.1% -22.2%

Regional Report

-16.2% -9.7% -29.1% -22.7%

-12.5% -7.9% -21.3% -12.4%

-10.3% -12.6% -18.9% -16.1%

+18.7% -23.0% +36.3% -42.4%

Source: Real Trends

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