Text of of John Rice's remarks to the media at State of the Seacoast IV, Seacoast Board of REALTORS offices, August 6, 2008...
Speaking first to the residential sales numbers, I think the thing that jumps out is that where we have had at times a huge gap between what we did in 2007 and where are in 2008, it seems that both years almost mirror each other now.
As of the end July, we had the most active listings since September 2007 and that's about 5% less than last year. This is not necessarily a bad thing because keeping the number of listings in check helps sustain prices in the market place.
The 2008 market has been very consistent in the number of pending sales since March including a little spike in May-traditionally a very busy real estate month. When you look at the pending graph and where we've come from and with the understanding that we have a depreciation scenario, we could well be trending towards a better end to the year than in 2007 as buyers purchase more affordable property. Still July pendings are 9.6% behind 2007.
Finally, after months of lagging well behind 2007 solds, we seem to be holding our own against 2007 numbers-despite a big decline in sales from last month-pretty typical for July. The 41 sales that closed in July is only 6.8% less than last year.
According to NHAR statistics, the average median price has slipped in May and June, but to be sure, we have had two months since the year began where average prices actually went up. Interestingly February-one of those positive months-- saw 3 $1m+ sales and a stronger showing in the $400-$700,000 range than the month before. But-by the same token--average prices fell in June despite 8 million dollar sales to pull up the average.
The condominium picture is less bright than the residential side.
July did register the most number of active listings for the year, but well shy of the 404 units available in July 2007. But, again, this is not such a bad thing.
Unlike single family pending sales, condo pending sales have been remarkably consistent for the year with July being the best month since April. Nevertheless the 36 July pendings represents a 20% decline from last year.
Finally, like the pendings, closed condo sales continue to lag well behind 2007 with July's 22 sales the lowest since March and an eye-popping 37% behind last year.
In summary-it seems that both the single family and condominium markets do not generally compare favorably to where they were in 2007. Having said that, it's also clear that business has been steady and that-at least this month-residential market activity is not dramatically different from where it was a year ago. And maybe, just maybe, trending towards a better finish than 2007.