May 5, 2009

Relatively speaking, Sacramento recovering

Sacramento, an early victim of the housing market collapse, is showing signs that the market's bottom is within sight, a housing analyst said.

History suggests this is how things might look six months before prices bottom out, MDA DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage said, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

With 28,898 foreclosures in Sacramento County since 2005, the market is crawling back to life on the backs of empty houses. Two-thirds of the 2,092 home sales in March in the county involved properties banks had taken over, the newspaper said.

The county's unemployment rate at 11.3 percent will test the area's recovery. Defaults notices also hit a record 2,919 in March, in part due to bank moratoriums on defaults coming to an end.

Buying a home in Sacramento County now appears to be cheaper than renting and there is a three-month inventory of homes on the market, compared to a national average of 10 months.

Michael Lyon, chief executive officer of Lyon Real Estate called signs of recovery fool's gold.

With the crash chopping home prices in half from their peak in 2005, rising prices might, in fact, be too much to ask.

A period of price stagnation would boost a lot of spirits, LePage said.