There’s always something to howl about

Archive for March, 2006

Properly belaboring the obvious takes time…

On February 5th, we told you that the start of 2006 resembled the start of 2004. We reinforced this idea on February 8th, and many times since then.

Today, March 21st, Dr. Jay Butler of ASU’s Center for the Extended Belaborment of the Obvious, finally arrives at the same conclusion, even though the trend has been obvious since the end of January. Properly belaboring the obvious takes time, after all.

Dr. Butler also released his calcuations on median home values for the month of February, up for the month, surprisingly enough, and a net positive for the year-to-date.

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Another news drought?

Catherine Reagor in the Arizona Republic asks, “Another price dip?”:

Valley resales figures for February are due out this week. And early analysis from Arizona State University’s Real Estate Center shows the median price might have dipped slightly again.

In January the median price of all resales was $257,000. They hit a high of $263,000 in September.

Might have dipped? Readers here have known since March 3rd that prices were down in February. As we reported last week, values are up for the month of March so far and for 2006 year-to-date. However: Around half of all residential real estate transactions close in the last ten days of the month. The numbers have been volatile so far, and we still could end the month on a down note. Days on Market is keeping pace with February, so far, at an average of 57 days. A total of 97 transactions have closed so far. This information is current as of 6:45am Sunday, when no one at either ASU or the Republic is working.

It’s important to remember that both our analysis and ASU’s are trailing indicators. The houses that close in March will have gone under contract in February and before, for the most part. In consequence, while reports of past results offer a general guide to the health of the real estate market, they don’t tell us very much about what is happening right now. Of course, the relative lack of utility of the numbers is substantially enhanced by ASU’s dilatory habits, but you can always turn to the Market-Basket of Homes for a better, much earlier snapshot of the marketplace.

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Down but not for the count…

From The Market-Basket of Homes for February:

“Home values are down for the second month in a row in the February 2006 Market-Basket of Homes. Average sales prices dropped by 1.14%, just under $3,000, from $263,638 to $260,645.

The weakness was felt mostly at the higher end of the price range. While a few homes sold for discounts from $10,000 to $30,000, compared to list price, many moderately priced homes sold for above list price. Discounting overall averaged -1.42%.

A total of 145 of the homes Bloodhound tracks were sold in February. This is down from February 2005, when 254 homes sold. But it is up from February 2004, when 137 homes were sold. The homes averaged 58 days on market in February 2006, 17 days in February 2005 and 56 days in February 2004.

Said Broker Greg Swann, ‘While the media never tire of telling us that 2006 is not like 2005, which is obvious, it turns out that 2006 very strongly resembles the beginning of 2004, which was a completely normal real estate market.’

In the overall Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, 6,168 properties sold in February of 2004 in an average of 61 days on market with an average of -2.4% discounting. In February of 2006, 5,868 properties sold in an average of 56 days on market with an average of -2.4% discounting.

‘The real test,’ Swann said, ‘will be March, April and May, the traditional selling season. If those months are healthy, we’ll have a great year despite getting off to a slow start.'”

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Phoenix and the wow factor…

The City of Phoenix just celebrated the demi-sesqui-centennial of its incorporation in 1881 (the town was founded by Col. Jack Swilling in 1867). The Republic has a timetable of key events in today’s paper. I thought I’d highlight two, for the wow factor:

&bul; 1950: Phoenix covered an area of 17.1 square miles, had a population of 106,000 residents and was the 99th-largest American city.

&bul; 2006: Phoenix spans across more than 514 square miles, has a population of more than 1.4 million residents and is the sixth-largest city in the country.

In a word: Wow…

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