Pending home sales index drop to lowest level ever

Ouch!

The WSJ reported:

"The battered housing sector took another blow Tuesday,
with an industry group reporting that a gauge of pending home sales
tumbled to its lowest level ever as the credit crunch restrains
purchases.

The National Association of Realtors’ index for
pending sales of previously owned homes decreased at a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 6.5% to 85.5 in August from July’s 91.4, the
industry group said. The August index was at its lowest point since
tracking began in January 2001. The previous low was 89.8 in September
2001."

Via Lehman Brothers, here’s the chart:

Pending_homesales_index

Of course, this is (somehow) good news for the homebuilders:

"Shares of the major publicly traded U.S. residential builders rose for a second straight day Tuesday as investors bet that the stocks have bottomed out after months of freefall. The upswing, which saw most of the biggest firms rise 3% to 7%, came despite the latest government report showing weak pending home sales.

Flattened by the mortgage crunch, a forward-looking gauge of home sales fell further in August to its lowest level in more than six years, a real-estate trade group said Tuesday.
The pending home sales index fell 6.5% in August after dropping a revised 10.7% in July, the National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday. The index is at its lowest level since its inception in 2001.

It could be a case of investors believing the situation cannot get any worse.
Residential builder’s stocks have been battered this year as housing-market conditions have continued to deteriorate and tighter lending standards stemming from the credit crunch have made mortgages more difficult to secure."

More likely, these are still crowded shorts, and every major piece of news seems to be an opportunity to either cover or squeeze the stocks higher . . .

Recall last month, we suggested a bounce was possible due to the this business week cover:  Uh-Oh: Bonfire of the Builders.

>

Sources:
Mortgage Problems Continue to Hamper Pending Home Sales
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS, October 02, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/ysk3sh

Pending-Home Sales Decline
By JEFF BATER
October 2, 2007 11:54 a.m.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119133126337546349.html

Builders rally as bleak data inspire ‘bottom’ calls
By Greg Morcroft, MarketWatch
Last Update: 11:46 AM ET Oct 2, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/26lrsd

Pending home sales down 6.5% in August
Rex Nutting
MarketWatch, 10:10 AM ET Oct 2, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2rwjmr

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Listener Determined Download Prices?

Radiohead

Interesting story about Radiohead’s new release, "In Rainbow’s."

Their pricing scheme for downloads is designed to give the Music Industry — especially major labels — fits. According to their website, IT’S UP TO YOU.

Notes Salon:

"This weekend the band announced that its new album, called "In Rainbows," will
go on sale on Oct. 10. They still haven’t signed with a label, and the album
won’t be available in record stores nor on iTunes or any other online music
shop. You’ll find it only on the band’s site, and if you’re looking for a
digital version, the price is very attractive: Whatever you’d like to pay.

You can pre-order the new album here.
Click to purchase the download and you’re presented with a simple screen at
which you’ve got two boxes to fill in, quantity and price (in pounds). "It’s up
to you," the site says."

For those of you who, like me, prefer the physical media, you have a high priced, rpemium option:

"If you’d like something physical, the band is also selling "In Rainbows" in
something it calls a "discbox," a beautiful package that includes a CD, two
vinyl records, digital files, album artwork, and lyrics booklets. It sells for
40 pounds, about $81 (the price includes shipping anywhere in the world). If
you’ve got a Radiohead superfan in the family — and who among us doesn’t? –
your holiday shopping just got easier."

(Additionally, I see a lot of other Econ bloggers have weighed in on this natural experiment:  Free Exchange, Mankiw Blog, Truth on the Market, Freakonomics, Long Tail & Marginal Revolution . . .)

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