The top story in The Bulletin's business section this morning trumpeted the news that single-family home sales in March were up sharply over the previous month.
"Bend home sales up as prices drop," said the headline. The smaller headline under that one added: "Houses spend fewer days on market."
Based on the Bratton Appraisal Group's monthly report (available to subscribers only) the story noted that "home sales jumped more than 64% from February to March and ... Bend homes spent fewer days on market, falling from 193 in February to 137 in March."
So let's pop the champagne corks and sing a rousing chorus of "Happy Days Are Here Again," right?
Well, maybe not. The statistic that The Bulletin story didn't quote, but that you could discover if you took the trouble to study the graphs accompanying it, was that the big 64% jump was from an anemic 56 sales in February to a still-puny 92 sales in March. That's about 40% below the 154 sales recorded in March 2007 and 54% lower than the 200 sales in March 2006, when the boom was really roaring.
One encouraging fact mentioned in the story is that the median price of Bend homes sold in March dropped below $300,000 for the first time since September 2005, a possible indication that sellers finally have figured out that the bubble is over and they need to price their homes more realistically. But there's a hell of a lot of unsold inventory still out there.
Will the median home price in Bend eventually fall below $200,000, as the BendBubble blog predicts? Or will The Great Rebound occur on April 25, as Dana Bratton prophesied in February? To use the hackneyed editorial writer's phrase, time will tell.