The three charts below show national housing inventory, sales of existing homes and the pending sales index through September.
It's pretty easy to see there has been marked improvement in all three areas - listings on the market have fallen from an inventory of 12 months in January to less than 8 months today; sales have rebounded strongly through the summer months to an annualized pace of 5.6 million; and the pending sales index is up nearly 30 basis points sinice bottoming out at the start of the year.
As the debate rages over extending or even expanding the first-time buyer tax credit, these charts are at the center of the discussion. Has the tax credit caused the rebound, or was the market already rebounding when the $8,000 tax credit was implemented? Truth is, the market was already improving at the start of the year, and the tax credit just amplified the bounce.
Should the tax credit be extended? Do we need it any more? Can we afford it? What do you think? One thing is for sure - buyers who took advantage of depressed prices, low interest rates and got the tax credit appear to have gotten a pretty sweet deal.