No one number can explain a market. We mention that because the headline number on housing starts points to lower new home sales. The headline number says that housing starts declined 4.8 percent in May after rising 5.4 percent in April. The pace of starts fell to 708,000 annualized units, which fell short of the market's expectation for 720,000 units.

When we read past the headline, we find the drop was attributable to the volatile multi-family component, which fell 21.3 percent. The good news is that the much larger, more important single-family component posted another monthly gain, rising 3.2 percent for the month.

The home builder sentiment index also tells us something. The number rose to a multi-year high of 29 this month. When the index is broken down into components, we find that the outlook for single-family homes is even higher: that component is up two points to a recovery high of 32. Given the dearth of new-home inventory, we expect sentiment to continue to improve as we progress through the summer months.

As for existing homes, the market might be sputtering. Existing home sales fell 1.5 percent to 4.55 million annualized units in May. Existing home sales began the year at a 4.63 million annualized rate and have had trouble building off that base.

Though sales may have stagnated, pricing hasn't. The national median price of an existing home is now at $182,600, a 7.6 percent year-over-year gain. Inventory remains stable at a 6.6-month supply at the going sales pace. This suggests to us that distressed properties continue to be much less of a problem than pundits had predicted earlier in the year.

Of course, any enthusiasm or distress aroused by a national number needs to be tempered. All markets are local, and values often differ from zip code to zip code (and even street to street). That said, the national number is an aggregate number; that means it's composed of individual local markets. The up trend in national numbers over the past year tells us more local markets are on the rise.

Mortgage lending rates, on the other hand, are not on the rise. They remain at the lowest levels on record. In fact, in many markets they posted a new low this past week. We don't see rates rising soon, either; the Federal Reserve is determined that they remain at these low levels. At the latest Fed board meeting it was decided that the Fed will continue to buy long-term U.S. Treasury notes and mortgage-backed securities by rolling money from maturing short-term notes into these securities. More demand means lower yield.

Our friends in Greece and Spain are also driving demand. Every time these countries announce another round of fiscal woe, more money leaves these countries' banks and flows into U.S. Treasury and MBS securities, thus helping to hold mortgage lending rates low at the retail level.Borrowers probably won't be penalized for procrastinating, at least into the near future. That said, markets can turn, and they can turn much quicker than many buyers and sellers realize.

Courtesy of Jessica Regan.

Search all Harrisburg PA homes for sale.

When you are buying or selling property in today's Harrisburg PA real estate market, it's important to have confidence in your real estate professional. Don’s commitment as your Harrisburg PA REALTOR® is to provide you with the specialized real estate service you deserve.

When you are an informed buyer or seller, you'll make the best decisions for the most important purchase or sale in your lifetime. That's why Don’s goal is to keep you informed on trends in Harrisburg PA real estate. With property values continuing to rise, real estate is a sound investment for now and for the future.

As a local area expert with knowledge of Harrisburg PA area communities, Don’s objective is to work diligently to assist you in meeting your real estate goals.

If you are considering buying or selling a home or would just like to have additional information about real estate in your area, please don't hesitate to call me at (717) 657-8700, complete my online form, or e-mail me at