With the latest data pointing to a double-dip in home prices, it has become increasingly clear that the wobbly economic recovery won’t be getting any help from the housing sector.
Existing home sales in February sank 9.6% from the previous month, while prices fell 5.2% to a median of $156,000, the lowest since April 2002. Existing homes comprise 90% of the housing market.
Meanwhile, new homes sales in February plummeted to an annual rate of 250,000, far below the norm of 700,000 and a level half that of 1963, when the United States had 120 million fewer residents than its current population of 310 million. The median sales price plunged 8.9% year-over-year.
But the worst news came with last Tuesday’s release of Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The index average of 20 major housing markets in the United States fell 3.1% in January, putting it within 1.1% of its April 2009 low. A drop below that level would establish a new post-peak low – the dreaded “double-dip.”