September 27, 2006

Econ Briefs from Yesterday (092706)

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 8:18 am

September consumer confidence was up, and by more than “expected.” *

The Dow closed at a six-year high, and the S&P 500 at a 5-1/2 year high.

Here’s how the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced their August home-price and home-sales report:

Existing-Home Sales Holding At A Sustainable Pace

WASHINGTON (September 25, 2006) – Existing-home sales stabilized at a sustainable pace in August, while home prices showed an anticipated decline, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – slipped 0.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 6.30 million units in August from a level of 6.33 million Ju1y, and were 12.6 percent lower than the 7.21 million-unit pace in August 2005, which was the second highest on record.

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said home sales appear to be leveling out. “After a stronger-than-expected drop in July, the fairly even sales numbers in August tell us the market is at a more sustainable pace,” he said. “It keeps us on track to see the third highest sales year on record, but we do expect an adjustment in home prices to last several months as we work through a build up in the inventory of homes on the market.”

OK, the NAR is an industry organization, and good reporters don’t just copy press releases. But it is a loooong way from what the NAR released to how USA Today reported it:

Home prices likely to fall more
By Noelle Knox, USA TODAY

Home prices are projected to fall for the rest of the year, the National Association of Realtors said Monday, with sellers being forced to accept a new reality: Buyers now wield the power, with the supply of homes for sale at a 13-year high.

The median-priced U.S. single-family detached home — half cost more, half less — fell 1.7% in August to $225,700, compared with a year ago. The decline is no doubt jarring to sellers, who haven’t seen prices fall nationally since April 1995. The price drop was also sharp, the second-steepest in 38 years.

Sales of existing homes, meantime, fell for the fifth month in a row.

USAT then proceeded to find three “experts” to throw gas on the fire, and didn’t find anyone besides Mr. Lereah of NAR to say that things really aren’t that bad. If Don Luskin wasn’t available to speak, his Friday column telling us that housing is only “cooling” was.

Oh, and USAT “somehow” forgot to tell us that the decline in existing-home sales was less than “expected.” *

Another day, another housing-market hatchet job.

* – You see, the trick is, in a Republican administration, The 527 Media makes sure to tell you when a good result like consumer confidence is better than “expected” (with a tone of surprise, of course), so that it seems like a fluke. But when a negative result is not as bad as “expected,” they sometimes “forget” to tell you, so that the result (with a tone of impending doom) is seen as just plain bad with no source for consolation, with even worse news to come.


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