Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lagging Statistics

Now that we're finally seeing some increase in the number of buyers and the resulting sales, the statistics for April are out. They show that prices fell and units fell. Not surprising, since that's reflecting activity from the first quarter. It doesn't measure today's pulse, but rather what was happening 60 to 90 days ago.

If we're lucky, the news will convince sellers not to be greedy, and buyers that it's a good time to get a reasonable price on the real estate they wish to own. It will let the government know that it can't stop trying to help the housing market. If we're lucky, it will not send everyone screaming for the hills, or more accurately, back into the cocoons where they have been hiding since last fall.

All of this does show the importance of the consumer confidence index, which is a measurement the government puts out on a periodic basis, to judge the mood of the buying public. Lately, this number has been at historic lows. The most recent results, however, have shown a sharp uptick in consumer confidence. We consider this number, along with personal income levels and interest rates, to be one of the three most important ways to predict the level of real estate sales. We could have told the press that sales would rise in May, after seeing the rise in consumer confidence. Since it's such a subjective measure, though, almost anything can affect it. That's why I'm hoping that the April sales numbers don't send it plummeting again.