The news in the last two days has not been good for those looking to sell their homes. But for those looking to sell and then buy something else, especially a new home from one of the major builders, the news isn't all that bad.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that the median price of a new home had dropped 11.1 percent between March and April, and almost 11 percent below the same month a year earlier. Sales of new single-family homes jumped by 16.2 March to April, signaling nothing less than a fire sale by builders.
Then yesterday, more bad news: Sales of existing homes dropped 2.6 percent between March and April after dropping 7.9 percent the previous month. The median price of homes sold in April dropped a moderate .8 percent, but median prices are whimsical; given the sub-prime lending problems, fewer homes at the lower end of the spectrum may have sold in the month, artificially inflating the median.
So where is the silver lining. Sales of existing homes slipped only 1.2 percent in the South, compared with 8.8 percent in the Northeast. The slightest decline was in the Midwest, just .7 percent, but how many people are contemplating retiring to a golf course community in Iowa (apologies to Iowa, a great state in all other regards)?
In terms of new home sales, the South led the way with a whopping 27.8 percent increase compared with just a 3.8 percent increase in the Northeast.
You have heard it here before. The spread between prices in the North and South are widening. If you really, really want to move South, don't be too greedy about pricing your house. You likely made as much as 50 percent in the five years before the current bust. Consider giving back a little of it just to get out from under, and start that new life below the Mason-Dixon line.
The South will rise again...and again.