With mortgage rates almost flat, activity drops

Freddie Mac says the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.03 percent for the week, up from last week’s 5.00 percent but way below 6.46 percent last year at this time. dollar-signs-money-clip-art-thumb2184272

And the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest report is that loan application volume for the week ending Oct. 23 dropped 12.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.   On an unadjusted basis, the decrease was 2.8 percent compared with the previous week, which included the Columbus Day holiday. Continue reading

Kicking him when he’s down and up is just fun

Robert Shiller now is warning that house prices in some areas of the U.S. could be approaching bubble territory, Global Edge reports.

Home prices in San Francisco and elsewhere have risen by double-digits over four months and look they as if they are in “bubble territory,” Shiller contended, adding:

“It is entirely possible that even with the bad news we are getting, home prices could start a major increase. . . What happens from here will depend on people’s animal spirits and speculative impulses.”

He also predicted rising unemployment would not stop prices from ncreasing:

“Even in the Great Depression real home prices were rising with the unemployment rate above 12 percent. . . Just because we have high unemployment does not mean the stock market cannot boom and the housing market cannot boom.”

Shiller, of course, is that Yale economist who correctly predicted that the recent housing bubble would burst and gave his name to half of the flawed index that he shares with Karl E. Case.

Shiller made the bubble forecast for years.  He was right, eventually.  Even a clock is right twice a day.

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Man’s best friend has a friend in housing court

These are grim days for co-ops with no-dog policies: New York’s housing courts are making it nearly impossible to evict residents who flout bans on dogs, according to Habitat magazine in BrickUnderground.com. Continue reading

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

In today’s New York Times, reporter David Streitfeld discovers that a number of others, including me, have been saying for months: Home prices and sales could continue to decline.  The way the article is written would lead–and doubtless will lead–readers to believe that the sky is falling.

Yes, it’s undeniable that many variables could change the anemically recovering housing market.  Among them are consumer confidence, unemployment rate, inflation, mortgage rates and a rise in the rate of foreclosures. Continue reading

Manhattan rents were generally flat in October

Rents, which generally decrease in the fall, were relatively flat this month, but the Real Estate Group of New York reports that prospective tenants seemed to be pushing up prices in trendy neighborhoods such as SoHo and TriBeCa.

On average, Manhattan rents were off approximately a half percent from September, and supply was rising again.  Inventory in Manhattan went up 1.72 percent, posting the first significant increase in vacancies in six months.  The biggest month-to-month change was in doorman studio units, which increased 2.09 percent.   (You’ll find much more on the Manhattan housing market in my free bi-weekly e-newsletter.)

The Real Estate Group of New York rent report

The charts above are taken from the Real Estate Group's report.

Inventories are back on the rise. Continue reading

Case-Shiller sees rate of price decline still slowing

Case-Shiller home price index by U.S. citiesThe Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which (I never tire of saying) omit apartments, show that the annual rate of decline of the 10-City and 20-City Composites improved in August compared with July.

August was approximately the seventh month of improved readings, beginning in early 2009. Continue reading

Gee, new condos that sprang up spring leaks

“There’s always an underlying number of lawsuits about defects, but about a year ago the number started to increase.  And over the next two years there’s going to be an explosion, because of all the buildings that were built at about the same time.”

So Stuart M. Saft, a real estate lawyer and the chairman of the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, told the New York Times in a story that led the real estate section on Sunday. Continue reading