February 2014 Housing Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 17, 2014 - 8:11am
The housing market was pretty firm again in February.  The median price per square foot nudged upward for the month:

And the Case-Shiller "proxy" (3 month average of single family median price/square foot) rose after several flat months:

Closing took a typical seasonal drop...

...but pendings rose very strongly for the month (which portends higher closings in the next month or two):

Inventory rose a bit but was still in line with this month last year:

However, active (excluding contingent) inventory is actually a lot higher than last year (more on this divergence below):

Overall inventory remains quite low:

The spike in pendings brought down months of inventory nearly to last year's level:

And the directional reversal of months of inventory has corresponded to a renewed increase in prices:

The above graph uses total inventory, simply because my data on active-only inventory doesn't go back as far (and total inventory seems to have worked well enough in any case).  However, because active and contingent have diverged recently (active is up 47% year over year, while contingent is down 59%!), I thought I'd make a version with only active inventory:

Note that the scaling is different on the two graphs... as I originally did with the older graph, I've set the scaling at what appears to be a decent fit based on eyeballing it.  Anyway, we can see that months of active inventory is not as low (high on the inverted blue line) as it was at this time last year, but it's still pretty low in the scheme of things.  It will be interesting to see where this number goes from here, but for the time being, both the months-of-inventory figures appear supportive for prices immediately ahead.

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