Monday, August 6, 2012

The Vanishing Home Owners

Here we go again. Fewer and fewer home owners in the USA. Many of us feared it and/or expected it. Today it is confirmed.

The above linked analysis points out that the number of "new" homeowners is on the rise as if to provide hope of a market turnaround.

However, the statistical charts fail to point out an important factor. We don't know what percentage of these "new" home owners are really investors buying up the foreclosures and REO properties around the country. After all, they count as a statistic the same as a young family of 4 just starting out.

Another news story out over the weekend makes for an example of where home sales are often coming from:

This story is about how an investment group essentially purchased almost an entire town, acquiring more than 600 properties via auction, the majority at substantially discounted prices. Granted, this acquisition is not a part of the graphics shown in the first story, but it provides a picture that "new" homeowners are not quite what the graph shows them to be.

Yet, the big concern should be that the ownership forecast, which shows how the number of home owners has dropped significantly over the past 6 years, was issued by none other than the National Association of Realtors.

While it is an Association function to keep on top of market statistics, their release of this information and the graphics to back it up is another instance of shooting itself in the foot. I could understand if Bloomberg or WSJ (or other such quality news gathering organization) developed these graphs and statistics by investigation. But the realty association?

This information does not help its hundreds of thousands of member agents and brokers. It does not help the thousands and thousands of people hopeful of selling a property who have it listed through an Association member. And it certainly doesn't help the market.

Somehow, this is backwards. It should be that the Detroit Free Press is reporting the negative statistics about the drop in home owners over the years around the country to alert its readers. And the National Assn. of Realtors should be reporting that more than 600 properties in a town in Michigan were purchased in one day.

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