Housing Markets

Thank you Dominic Holden for pointing out what should be obvious: if housing prices are up month-to-month, but down year-over-year, they probably haven’t gone up. Housing prices are cyclical. There are months that people tend to buy and sell houses and monts that they don’t. Spring-summer is a particularly busy time.

Thus, “Housing market perking up” is probably not the most accurate headline for this article, which thankfully provides better context:

A statement accompanying the data highlighted increases in pending sales from January to February, with jumps of nearly 30 percent in Seattle, and slightly less in King County and the 19 counties in Western Washington that the service covers.

Increased traffic at open houses and reports of homes fetching multiple offers also are “signs of an emerging spring market,” it said.

“In March, the real estate market is set to get its mojo back,” J. Lennox Scott, chairman and chief executive of John L. Scott Real Estate, said in the statement. “We’re already seeing the momentum build.”

The pending sales numbers appear to show that this year is typical — sales are picking up as the days get longer and warmer.

But compared with the same month a year ago, February’s pending sales were down 22 percent in Seattle, 36 percent in King County and 31 percent in Western Washington.

The quote from the John L. Scott guy is particularly ridiculous. It’s as if a nonprofit who registered voters claimed, “after a lackluster October, we really expect a record number of people voting this November!” November, of course, being the month where most people actually vote. It tells you nothing unless you compare it to previous Novembers.

Oh, and they still don’t seem to factor inflation into these prices. If prices go up 2.2% year over year, and inflation is 3%, then prices actually dropped.

Anyway, this last graf is a gem:

“Sellers have effectively beat up on buyers for the last 20 years,” he said. “They don’t really grasp the depth of the change.”