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A sign is seen outside of a KB Home sales center in Richmond, California. A lack of housing supply in the Western U.S. is spurring homebuilders to start building again.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has released its pending home sales index for August. The index fell a bit from July but is up more than 10 percent from last August.
That's the national picture. But in the West, the story is...well, distorted. The July-August decline was more than 7 percent, and the year-over-over year was more than 4 percent. What's to blame? A lack of housing inventory, according to the NAR.
I've been noting this trend often here at the DeBord Report. It's both good and bad. Good because a lack of supply to meet demand is encouraging homebuilders to...build! And that means unemployed construction workers have a good chance in the future to be not unemployed. But it's bad because the lack of supply, combined with historically low interest rates, is driving up prices. And it's dragging down pending sales — because there just aren't enough homes to be pending a purchase!
Rising prices would normally be a good story. But the combination of limited supply and cheap money means that the market isn't really normal. That makes it risky to buy a house now, even if you figure that prices, although rising, are still well below their bubble highs.