Plans to buy, renovate home bounce back in year

In May of 2009, only 3.0 percent of the 717 New York State residents polled by the Siena (College) Research Institute of Loudonville said they planned to buy a home.  Last month, that number rose to 4.7 percent.

Those results compare with 3.7 percent in May 2008 and 5.3 percent in May 2007, close to the height of the housing boom.  (Lehman Brothers imploded on Sept. 15, 2008.)

With respect to undertaking a major renovation, the numbers starting in 2007 were 20.6 percent, 16.9 percent, 13.8 percent and, this year, 17.8 percent.

The numbers do not completely correlate with the study’s index of consumer confidence, which went from 80.2 in May 2007 to 55.7 in 2008, 67.6 in 2009 and now to 68.

Although New York State consumer confidence increased 1.2 points in May, the nation’s confidence increased 1.4 points, according to the survey.  At 68, New York’s overall consumer confidence was 5.6 points below the nation’s 73.6 level.

Doug Lonnstrom, professor of statistics and finance at the college, had this to say about the results:

A slight gain in confidence overall this month with most of the optimistic push coming from New York City and men.

Consumers remain cautious amidst distant daily talk of the oil spill and European financial chaos.

Closer to home, seesawing Wall Street numbers and gas prices, as well as unemployment worries continue to keep New Yorkers anxious. But pent up demand as well as slow sustained gains in current confidence now result in buying plans for homes, computers and cars hitting two to three year highs.

But while consumers’ adjustment to the present leads to gains in current confidence, up five points in a year, their future outlook is headed in the opposite direction, down close to three points in a year overall and trending downwards compared to current confidence across all groups.

Indeed, the statistics for metropolitan New York City alone contrast sharply with those for upstate.  In the city’s region, the index rose to 72.9 in May, when the Dow-Jones Industrial Average was climbing.  But confidence upstate slipped to 60.0

As I like to remind readers, many of whom probably can perceive from my posts what I point out, I am no economist.  That said, let me suggest that the statistics don’t surprise me.

I think the mood of those of us who live in New York City, especially Manhattan, are disproportionately affected by Wall Street’s twists and turns.  While the state and nation as a whole also feel more or less confident depending on the DJIA, many other factors feed into the way consumers feel–e.g. employment, the global economy and natural or unnatural disasters (oil).

The margin of error, according to Siena, is plus or minus 3.7 percent for overall results.  For segments of the population, it is undisclosed but much higher.  Moreover, without know what other questions, if any, were asked, I attribute Lonnstrom’s remarks as mere speculation.

Depending on your tolerance for surveys and their numbers, reading them may or may not be interesting.  But they are nothing that anyone should take as gospel.

In fact, you are as qualified as the experts to conclude why the poll’s respondents gave their answers .

Have at it!

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
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