It’s Lereah Day. Near the end of each month, NAR’s chief economist releases statistics on the previous month’s existing home sales. The Mainstream media avidly follows these numbers and Lereah’s (often hyper-optimistic) comments. The January analysis has just been released.
MSM interpretations are coming in thick and fast. I’ve got a couple of links to these in the notes and will be back shortly with more in the comments.  …
Notes and References: Lereah is pronounced approximately La-Ray’, rhymes with "day." : "Existing-Home Sales Improve in January: Sales of existing homes rose in January, reaching the highest level in seven months, according to the National Association of Realtors", by David Lereah, National Association of Realtors (press release), February 27, 2007. Emphasis in the quotes is mine.
Total existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – increased 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 6.46 million units in January from an upwardly revised pace of 6.27 million in December. Sales were 4.3 percent below the 6.75 million-unit level in January 2006." [looks like MoM is more fun than YoY these days] [Lereah next notes that fine January weather probably boosted the stats and warned that February’s bad storms will likely cause that month to dip.]
"Total housing inventory levels rose 2.9 percent at the end of January to 3.55 million existing homes available for sale …"
[followed by an explanation on why this isn’t a problem]…
"The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $210,600 in January, down 3.1 percent from January 2006 when the median was $217,400. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.
NAR President Pat Vredevoogd Combs, from Grand Rapids, Mich., and vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS-Schmidt, said a broader view shows the housing market stabilizing. …"
: "Existing-home sales rise 3% in January", by Rex Nutting, MarketWatch, February 27, 2007. : "Yen Gains Most in 10 Months as Investors Unwind Their Bets", by Min Zeng, Bloomberg, February 27, 2007.
The U.S. currency pared some of its losses after reports showed existing home sales in January rose more than economists forecast and a gauge of consumer confidence this month unexpectedly rose to the highest in more than five years.
Existing home sales gained to an annual rate of 6.46 million last month from a revised 6.27 million in December. Economists expected 6.24 million in a Bloomberg poll. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 112.5 this month, from a revised 110.2 a month earlier, beating the economists’ forecast of 108.5.
: Mrs. M and I are going to break for lunch, but I’ll be back with lots more shortly. In the meanwhile here’s a Google Search Cluster (15 stories), enjoy!