CU Economists Downplay Housing Numbers
New home sales plummeted in May, dropping almost 33% from the already lowered figures from April and over 18% below where they were at this time in 2009, according to the Commerce Department.
The numbers are the lowest since the Commerce Department started collecting home sales data in 1963.
But credit union trade association economists urged credit unions not to focus on the short term number but on the long term trends.
"This was the first month since the end the [new home buyer] tax credit, so I knew the numbers would be bad," said CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel. "But I don't think they necessary represent the market trend."
Hampel pointed out that the first time home buyer tax credit, which expired at the end of April, had served to bring the housing market forward, influencing people who might have purchased a home in the summer to do it in the Spring instead. Unlike previous recessions, Hampel said, the housing market was unlikely to pull the rest of the economy out of the recession. "This market has just fallen too far," he said.
NAFCU Chief Economist Tun Wai largely agreed and pointed out that the home credit, by itself, was not able make a lasting impact on the market without some improvements in other important numbers, like the employment figure.
"The employment number is really big number when it comes to home sales," Wai said."If you don't have a job, you are not going to have the ability to get a loan for a house," he added.