Consider it an unsightly, smeared, parting smooch from housing's biggest cheerleader, the National Association of Realtors' ex-economist, David Lereah.
The NAR's newest pending sales report is an absolute hog. March pending sales were down a whopping 10.5% from 2006, and they even managed to score a sequential drop of 4.9%, something that should not happen as we head into the spring buying season. But the NAR is ever willing to put lipstick on the pig.
In typical Lereah fashion, this further evidence of the deflating bubble is good news. "We're fortunate to have a positive economic backdrop now, with job growth and low mortgage interest rates to provide opportunities for buyers who've been on the sidelines or were unable to get into the market during the boom, especially with inventories favoring buyers," reads Lereah's latest pap. Oh, and he also says housing will bounce back soon.
Don't you believe it. This comes from the same guy who, last fall, was consistently predicting a Q1 uptrend -- at least in public. (Check out this NAR PowerPoint presentation that tells the truth that the association wasn't comfortable sharing in its press releases.)
Here's the reality I see. Homebuilders such as Beazer Homes
Now that it's becoming clear that a pulse doesn't guarantee cash flow, lending is getting a bit tighter, and with the mainstream media reporting on the awful fallout, there are fewer and fewer suckers out there willing to pay two or three times equivalent rent to get in on "the American dream." This isn't a buyer's market yet. Just wait until the crummy loans of the last couple of years reset in 2008. Then find a property you like, and make a bid at 20% less than list.
Paying less than rent for more space in a place you want to live -- that's the real American dream. Sometimes you have to wait for it, though -- not to mention earn it.