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Friday, January 8, 2010

Housing data: Cherry on top, but what’s below?

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        We awoke today to some signs that maybe the housing market is beginning to inch its way back, although the housing stimulus credit expiring in April and the cloudy unemployment picture could prove spoilsports to any significant recovery in 2010.   Therefore, although we believe many thousands of couples have the equity to fuel their dreams of a home in a warm weather community, and should consider doing so, we would not advise rushing right out and buying because of one day’s worth of good news.

        If you purchased a big allocation of shares of Lennar Corp.’s stock the other day, however, you

Prices of homes sold in December improved in Charleston, Asheville and Aiken.  They were essentially level in Hartford, CT, and other northern cities.

might have the financial wherewithal to buy one of their houses today.  Lennar reported its first year-to-year increase in new orders for homes since 2006, a modest but compelling 3%.  That drove Lennar shares up $1.76, or 13%.  Since a horrible 1st quarter in 2008, Lennar’s quarterly year-to-year new orders have improved steadily.  Once builders have the sustained confidence to start up the new home machine again, that could be a strong hint of a recovery.

        Home prices in a number of popular southern towns have stopped wobbling, at least for now.  In Charleston, for example, preliminary figures for December indicate median prices increased from $170,000 in November to $193,500 last month, a number just $3,000 shy of the median price in December 08.  Average prices were $291,000 last month, $228,000 the month before and $259,000 in December 08.  Those impressive comparisons were based on the sales of 541 homes last month compared with 560 in December a year earlier.  (Source:  Charleston Real Estate Blog).

        According to an Asheville, NC, online source, prices in that popular

Don't be piggy if you have equity in your primary home and a dream of year round golf.

mountain area also showed impressive gains.  Comparing December 09 to the same month a year earlier, homes sold were up more than 16% to 390, and the average sales price was up 6.45% at $263,719.  For the entire year, however, median sales price dropped from $210,000 to $190,000, or 9.5%.  The average sales price dropped a like amount.

        In the charming town of Aiken, SC, selling prices have appreciated a total of 33% over the last five years.  Median sales prices in the three months from September through November, according to the web site Trulia.com, increased nearly 6% compared with the previous three months.  Prices year over year, however, were down 7.7%.

        The average listing price for Aiken homes for sale, according to Trulia.com, was $336,145 for the week ending December 30, which represents an increase of 0.7%, or $2,237, compared to the prior week and an increase of 3.4%, or $11,193, compared to the week ending Dec 2009.

         In my hometown area of Hartford, CT, the local paper’s headline this morning was that “Home Sales Increase(d) 10.6%,” but for those who want to sell their homes and move south, the devil is in the details inside the story.  Home prices in 2009 dropped 7.3%, although the November to December decrease was less than 1%.  Still, for Hartford area folks and other northerners considering a move to the coast, mountains or inland areas of the south, the glass remains half empty and the encouragement here is not to be piggy about a selling price if you have equity in your home and year round dreams of golf dancing in your head.
Read 12781 times Last modified on Friday, 08 January 2010 12:29
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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.

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