Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Home Sales Plunge to Record Lows…

New Home Sales fell to 309,000 for the month of January, 360,000 was the consensus. Here’s Econoday:
January is a difficult month for the housing sector, made difficult this year by still soft prices, heavy inventory, and the still distant April deadline for buyer credits. New home sales fell to a much lower-than-expected annual rate of 309,000 in January.

Prices fell with the median down 5.6 percent in the month to $203,500 for another year-on-year decline, now at minus 2.4 percent. Inventory jumped to 9.1 months, reversing eight months of incremental improvement.

Today's results evoke this morning's mortgage-application report where the Mortgage Bankers Association warns that housing demand remains weak and that buyers see no urgency to lock in prices. Existing home sales will be posted on Friday.

Those who didn’t see this coming have their eyes closed. This is not and never has been a normal economic cycle. This is a Grand Super Cycle top the excesses are everywhere, and especially in housing, they are simply tremendous in scale. Houses are still too expensive in relation to incomes. People, businesses, and all levels of government are saturated with debt while those in power simply work harder to push even more debt into the situation – it is literally insane.

Remember this chart?

Here’s Bloomberg’s report:

U.S. New-Home Sales Unexpectedly Fell in January to Record Low

By Bob Willis

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Sales of new homes in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in January to the lowest level on record, a sign that an extension of a government tax credit may not be enough to rekindle demand.

Purchases declined 11 percent to an annual pace of 309,000, below the lowest forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists, from a 348,000 pace, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median sales price dropped 2.4 percent from January 2009 and the supply of unsold homes increased.

The government’s first-time buyers tax incentive, extended and expanded to include current homeowners, may provide less of a boost to the market as many purchases were pulled forward late last year. Builders also face competition from foreclosed properties that have driven down prices at the same time the economy is having trouble creating jobs.

“New-home sales may be at rock-bottom levels, but it looks like the housing correction is not over yet,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said before the report. “Everyone who was going to buy for the tax credit has already purchased a new home.”

Sales were projected to climb to a 354,000 annual pace from an originally reported 342,000 rate in December, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 72 economists. Forecasts ranged from 325,000 to 386,000.

Three of the four U.S. regions showed declines in new-home sales last month, led by a 35 percent plunge in the Northeast. Purchases fell 12 percent in the West and 9.5 percent in the South. They rose 2.1 percent in the Midwest.

Median Price Fell
The median price of a new home in the U.S. decreased to $203,500 in January, the lowest since December 2003, from $208,600 in the same month last year.

The supply of homes at the current sales rate increased to 9.1 months’ worth, the highest since May 2009.
Housing, the industry that spawned the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and triggered the worst recession in seven decades, appeared to be recovering in 2009 after a three-year decline.

Purchases of new homes have declined from an all-time high of 1.39 million reached in July 2005. They have declined 6.1 percent from January 2009.

New-home purchases, which account for about 6 percent of the market, are considered a leading indicator because they are based on contract signings. Sales of previously owned homes, which make up the remainder, are compiled from closings and reflect contracts signed weeks or months earlier.

Rising Foreclosures
Rising foreclosures are the main threat to a sustained housing recovery. A record 3 million U.S. homes will be repossessed by lenders this year as unemployment and depressed home values leave borrowers unable to make their house payment or sell, according to a RealtyTrac Inc. forecast last month. Last year there were 2.82 million foreclosures, the most since the Irvine, California-based company began compiling data in 2005.

The lack of jobs is another hurdle. Consumer confidence in February fell to its lowest level since April 2009 and a gauge of current conditions declined to the lowest level in 27 years on concerns about the labor market and the economy, the Conference Board reported yesterday.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg at the beginning of this month forecast unemployment this year will average 9.8 percent, just a percentage point below the historic post-war peak of 10.8 percent reached in November 1982.

The end of Federal Reserve purchases of mortgage-backed securities, aimed at keeping borrowing costs low, represents another challenge for the housing industry. The program is scheduled to expire at the end of March.

‘Years to Recover’
“The housing market took several years to recover, following the downturn of the late 1980s and early 1990s,” Robert Toll, chief executive officer of Toll Brothers Inc., said in a statement today.
Toll Brothers, the largest U.S. luxury-home builder, said its first-quarter loss narrowed. The Horsham, Pennsylvania-based company’s new orders almost doubled in the three months ended Jan. 31 as the housing market showed signs of stabilizing.

And you thought you were living in an "investment," lol, no, not quite. "We all live in a..."

Beattles – Yellow Submarine: