The 3rd quarter of 2011 was better in volume for single family home sales than the 3rd quarter of 2010 from a volume perspective, according to the data I found on the Empire Access MLS. And in comparing the years to date, 2011 is still "catching up" to 2010 and may indeed do so by the end of the year.
If you have been following my observations of the market, you'll know that 2011 started out far behind 2010 because of the bloated results of last year's stimulus. However, I have postulated that because things fell off so precipitously after the stimulus ended in 2010 that 2011 could catch up with consistent production through the end of the year.
Here are the breakdowns, both quarterly and year to date:
In the 3rd quarter of 2010, there were 1220 closings with a median price of $730,000.
In the 3rd quarter of 2011, there were 1326 closings with a median price of $684,005.
Obviously, median price is down, but I view $730,000 as an anomaly borne of both the stimulus, which had a closing deadline of September 30 last year.
In the first three quarters of 2010, 3178 homes closed at a median price of $645,000.
In the first three quarters of 2011, 3039 homes closed at a median price of $630,000.
Year to date, prices are down about 2%. At the mid point of 2010, we were behind 248 closings. At the end of the 3rd quarter, that number has shrunk to 139 transactions. There are three months left to close the gap, which would take about 46 closings per month. A whopping 656 homes are under contract or pending right now, but the median asking price is $499,000. If only half of those close, 2011 will easily surpass 2010 in transaction total but take a body blow with median sale price. I'll bet the lion's share of those 656 deals are actually short sales. If so, that could clog up the timeline.
In 2001, the first three quarters had 4216 closings at a median price of $459,000.
In 2005, the first three quarters had 4762 closings at a median price of $680,000.
While a case could be made that median price reflects a correction of an irrationally exuberant spike and that values are where they probably ought to be, which is still considerably above that of a decade ago, transaction totals are down 25%. That 25% decline is where housing decline lives. And yes, while median price is indeed rather healthy looking, how do you adjust for the 1000 people that got $0 for the homes which remain unsold? You can't. We aren't out of the woods yet, and it remains a buyer's market for the foreseeable future.