Although news about the housing market has been mixed over the past month, new data has started to be more positive than negative. Perhaps, for once in the past year, the signs of a recovery are real.
The latest data from Corelogic shows home prices rose 1.8% from April to May. The numbers include distressed transactions, which are short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.
The Corelogic announcement about May is not as strong as housing market bulls might wish because the states where prices have advanced tend to be small based on population. The top five include Idaho, South Dakota and Montana, where prices rose 9.2%, 8.7% and 8.2%, respectively. These three states have among them a population of only about five million. On the plus side, two of the nation’s most troubled housing markets also did well. Home prices in Michigan were up 7.9%, and in Arizona they rose 12%. These two states also have had good recoveries in employment. The odd mix of states based on size and location shows how choppy the recovery has become.
The other end of the market showed no real patterns either. Home prices in Rhode Island dropped 4.4%. The small state has one of the highest unemployment levels in the United States. So does Georgia, where home prices fell 4%. Illinois home prices fell 4.2%, which marks a price retreat in one of the industrial Midwest states. Prices dropped 4.1% in Alabama, a largely rural state that does not have a single big city. Delaware home prices fell 9%. These states do not share much with one another in location, population size or employment levels.
Anyone who reviews the numbers should be heartened, though there is little information with which to piece together a trend in which parts of country, either geographically or demographically, are very clearly doing well.
Douglas A. McIntyre