Spring Thaw for Real Estate?

The first sign of of happy news, of course, was that the stock market actually went up recently more than one day in a row.

Then, on St. Patrick’s Day, Reuters reported that housing starts jumped an unexpected 22.2% in February, “the biggest percentage rise since January 1990 and the first gain since April.” It’s enough to make us want to drink green beer.

In a related article, they suggest that the economy may be showing some signs of life, and note, “Sensing that the worst may soon be over, investors have begun putting a bit more money into some of the hardest hit sectors, including retailers and home builders.”

Still more: The Federal Reserve took the financial markets by surprise with a plan to pump about $1 trillion into the economy by buying treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. Whatever else we may think about this plan’s effect on the dollar and future inflation, it is likely to drive mortgage rates down just in time for what would usually be the springtime home-buying season. Just one day before the announcement, pundits were saying that mortgages rates had surely gone as low as they could; now they’re saying 4% is not unthinkable.

And — back in January, an article in Forbes saw incipient signs of a “resurrection in real estate.”

All this doesn’t exactly add up to the return of a roaring bull-market economy, but at least it’s a relief from the relentless drumbeat of bad news to which we’ve become accustomed. It’s food for thought, and worthwhile reading.

Like winter, recessions eventually end. It would be nice to say good-bye to both.

This post is an excerpt from our March, 2009 RealData Dispatch newsletter. To view past issues, or to subscribe: http://realdata.com/newsletter/newsletter.shtml

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