New numbers show home sales increased 2.9 percent nationwide in February over the previous month. But year-to-year prices are down 8.2 percent, dropping from a median of $213,500 to $195,900.
What does this mean? Looking at the big picture—that is, the bad stuff happening to the overall economy that may never affect your life on a day-to-day- basis but which you lie awake worrying about at 2 a.m.anyway—it could be good news. Increased sales may indicate that prices have come down enough to tempt buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines for the past few months. If there's enough pent-up demand to buoy sales for a second month in March, prices may stop dropping.
As the National Association of Realtor's chief economist Lawrence Yun put it, "We’re not expecting a notable gain in existing-home sales until the second half of this year, but the improvement is another sign that the market is stabilizing."
What does it mean for you and me? If you have been debating about when to buy, now may be the time prices are lowest. If you've been waiting for the right time to sell, keep waiting. In the meantime, stop worrying and go work in the garden. Digging a nice hole deep enough to plant an antique climbing rose will take your mind off this stuff fast.