More signs of a sliding housing market

Affordability has issues, too

What a “coincidence” it is that the 2Q GDP estimate of 4.6% was reported last week by the Bureau of Economic Analysis so close to election day. Just as was the case in late 2012… just ahead of the national elections, economic “news” comes out that the recovery is strengthening. Really?

Oh, I won’t quibble about there seeming to be a general sense that the economy is improving, but a temporary feeling of relief does not change reality. And the most important piece to seeing longer-term growth and steady improvement in the general economy (and therefore the housing market) will only happen when the jobs picture improves significantly – accompanied by a rise in middle-class wages.

I would also like to state the obvious here: one quarter’s GDP numbers does not a trend make.

There are still enough indicators out there that suggest that another round of foreclosures is near (and the general economy is weak): Affordability issues; looming interest rate hikes as have been predicted by Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen; too many FHA loans being made (this is the “new” sub-prime market); federal emphasis being placed on low-income borrowers, and other factors are causing house prices to decline once again in many markets. 

Take, for example, this news reported by Trey Garrison in HousingWire on Sept. 30, “ZeroHedge: America’s most important housing metro flashing red,” that the Chinese housing bubble has burst and ZeroHedge’s long-stated belief that “San Francisco is the canary in the American housing coal mine, and after a double round of bad housing news, that canary is looking green around the gills.”

Garrison goes on to quote ZeroHedge as saying that San Francisco’s proximity to both Silicon Valley and China has helped it benefit not only from the Fed-driven liquidity bubble, but also two other bubbles: tech and the behemoth Chinese $25 trillion financial debt that caused Chinese money to pour into the San Francisco market. House prices had been driven up significantly as a result.

But, and that is a BIG but, as Garrison’s article notes, there is data now out that indicates there is little if any doubt that the San Francisco housing price “bubble” is losing air. Prices are no longer rising at a breakneck pace and could actually decline for the first time in several years.

This appears to indicate that now even the ultra-high end of the U.S. housing market, San Francisco at least, which has seemed to those blinded by housing price increases in recent months to be impervious to price corrections, is now on the verge of coming back to reality.

In other news, Case-Shiller has reported that their home price index fell 0.5% in July, which is the steepest drop since late in 2011 and the third consecutive month of declines.

There are numerous reports out there about the housing market today. Without reading as much information as you can to help you make up your mind as to whether it is trending up or down, I don’t know how anyone could claim to know in which direction the market is actually headed. Suffice it to say here that it depends on which housing market or markets you are talking about. In some markets prices are still rising, but in others quite the opposite is true. Local housing markets vary across the country for numerous reasons, but chief among them are the state of the local job market and the level of available inventory. Did I mention jobs?

When it comes to home price growth, even members of the National Association of Realtors expect house prices to increase only modestly over the next 12 months, according to data collected from the August 2014 Realtor Confidence Index Survey, as reported recently in HousingWire. And when NAR puts out information that doesn’t scream “Now is a great time to buy or sell real estate,” but instead speaks the truth, it is certainly worth noting — especially so close to another election day.

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3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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