From the WSJ:
A report out Thursday says that strengthening asking prices for homes point to higher sales prices as early as June, which would be a welcome turn for the beleaguered sector.
Asking prices nationally were 0.5% higher in April than in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, said Jed Kolko, chief economist for home-listings company Trulia. Similarly, seasonally adjusted asking prices rose 1.9% over the quarter. Compared with this point last year, however, home price tags have only risen 0.2% nationally.
“When we look back years from now and try to figure out when the turnaround in prices actually happened, September 2011 is the time when prices look like they stabilized,” Mr. Kolko said.
The market may stabilize but it has a long way to go to reach pre-bust housing prices. As of February, the S&P/Case-Shiller indexes showed home prices dropping to new post-bubble lows. The 20-city composite index is hovering near late-2002 levels.
Trulia’s report tracks the most recent listing-price data in the largest 100 metro markets and takes into account comparable property types for a more apples-to-apples comparison. Month-to-month and quarterly data are seasonally adjusted to discount the typical springtime bump in prices. It also records year-over-year rent changes.
“It’s been a strong few months for housing, but some of that was frontloaded” during the winter months, when home construction and sales picked up because of unseasonably warm weather, Mr. Kolko said.
On the tenant side, rents have risen a more robust 5.6% nationally, according to Trulia, driven by job growth and a tightening rental supply in several markets. Would-be buyers are also being deterred by strict lending standards.
Nationally, housing prices have bottomed and are on the rise. Asking prices on for-sale homes were 1.9% higher in April than one quarter ago. A 0.5% month-over-month rise in April, on top of month-over-month price increases in March and February, makes for three months in a row of rising asking prices, after adjusting for typical seasonal trends. In fact, prices have been stable or rising for the past eight months, except for a dip in December 2011. This marks a new milestone: asking prices were 0.2% higher in April than a year ago. Before April, prices were still falling year-over-year.
Even within a metro area, neighborhoods have their own price and rent trends. This month we looked at trends within five large metros: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC and the San Francisco Bay Area.
In the New York area, prices rose year over year in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island, while declining in the rest of the region. But rents rose everywhere – both in the City and suburban areas.
New York City Area
Borough or County Y-o-Y % Change in Asking Price Y-o-Y % Change in Rent
Brooklyn 2.4% 5.7%
Manhattan 1.1% 6.8%
Staten Island 0.8% *
Hudson, NJ (Jersey City) -0.2% 7.7%
Queens -1.6% 7.1%
Bronx -1.7% 4.7%
Nassau, NY (Long Island) -2.1% 4.5%
Bergen, NJ (Hackensack) -3.0% 2.0%
Westchester, NY -3.1% 3.4%