At some point, we might have to start asking: Is the housing market actually recovering?
There are numerous numbers that measure the housing economy. The latest we got today is Pending Home Sales, which were up 6% in December. Analyst Ian Sheperdson of High Frequency Economics writes:
This is a welcome development after three straight drops averag ing about 4%. Pending sales were rising, albeit fitfully, before the Lehman blowup, but after that the combination of shock, fear and tighter lending standards drove it back down sharply. The latter problem remains acute, but the shock and fear might now be fading a bit.
Ok, fading shock and fear offers just a little comfort, but here and there we are seeing better housing numbers, including the severe fall-off in new homes built, a record measure in housing affordability, and existing home sales ticking up in December, though that stat should be strongly correlated with today’s numbers.
It’s just a few data points here and there, but eventually they might tell a story. A few more decent numbers, and we’ll have to start paying attention to them.
Oh, and we almost forgot, Chris Dodd got a refi, so that’s a good sign.