Radar Logic: Don’t Call It a Housing Comeback … Yet

By June, Radar Logic‘s RPX Monthly Housing Market Report showed three months of stability in the composite home prices and CEO Michael Feder was ready to call a recovery. Other market observers chimed in, pointing toward a narrowing of declines in home sales and median sales prices across the US. Phrases forming on everyone’s tongue became “housing bottom” and “recovery in sight,” with several financial institutions going so far as to tell shareholders the recession itself is at an end. While Radar Logic, in a special report published Wednesday (and available to download here), acknowledged the encouraging signs of stability in house prices, the real estate data and analytics provider remains wary of calling a bottom just yet. Radar Logic pointed to home prices soaring in many markets beyond the expected levels, given historical seasonal patterns. This trend suggests price increases seen recently are due to something beyond simple seasonal swings. Along with strong gains in prices studied by Radar Logic, housing starts increased continually since the beginning of the year. Existing home sales rose steadily through the year and new home sales are also on the rise since March, indicating the gain in home sales is not due only to high foreclosure resales as buyers work through foreclosure inventory. “While houses may sell at a discount from their peak values for years to come, the return to normal seasonal patterns suggests that sustainable appreciation could return to the market soon,” Radar Logic’s analysts said in the special report. “Attitudes have changed dramatically since last winter and the fear of many investors has turned to optimism.” But the question remains whether the trend will continue through the approaching winter and the expected seasonal downturn, Radar Logic said. Buyers tend to retreat for winter and remain on the sidelines until February, when volume usually picks up again. The analytics company said observers should wait until winter passes to make judgments on the market, as any current recovery trends should become more apparent between now and next buying season. “A positive sign to look for is a winter home-price decline that is less severe than would be expected given past seasonal price patterns,” the report concluded. “This would indicate that consumers’ confidence in the housing market is strengthening and that a strong upcoming buying season could be on the way.” Write to Diana Golobay.

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