New Yorkers can ignore latest housing statistics

Case-Shiller Home Price Levels. Click to expand and see other graphics.

In fact, New Yorkers and residents of other dense urban centers always can pay little heed to the monthly report of housing data from Case-Shiller or any other single sources of information.

Their one virtue is to examine a dated snapshot of the national housing market, excluding areas such as the Big Apple, where few single-home sales occur.  Case-Shiller leaves out apartment sales and its reports embrace whole Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). In addition, the sample of 10 or 20 cities is suspect in my layman’s eyes.

Manhattan by gemini spy on Flickr.

In the case of Manhattan, the MSA covers all the boroughs plus suburban New Jersey and Westchester County. And as everyone knows, the percentage of single-family home sales in the borough never reaches beyond the lowest digits.

I suppose investors and others who might be looking, unreasonably, at the national market for trends in the biggest cities can benefit from glancing at the numbers. But using those statistics for anything greater than a very rough gauge of what is or, worse, will be occurring in a given market is pure folly.

All that said, you may well be able to enliven your cocktail chatter by knowing Continue reading

This list exemplifies why I’m skeptical about lists

Merced, Calif., is a quiet, residential city an easy drive from Yosemite National and Pacific Coast beaches.  It’s also a perfect case study for the aftermath of the housing crisis.

Beautiful downtown Merced, California.

Such is the leisurely beginning of a piece in Forbes purporting to list cities where homes are losing the most value. 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

Most price declines are ‘behind us,’ say analysts

Analyzing trend data from First American CoreLogic and the Federal Housing Finance Administration, PMI Mortgage Insurance reports in its latest Housing Market Mortgage Review “that the bulk of the home price declines are behind us.”  It continues:

“. . . Both also suggest that house prices have still not reached their long-term trend levels.”

As with other goods and services, house prices depend on demand and supply.  Over a long period of time, however, the growth rate in home prices should conform to income growth – otherwise houses would become either increasingly unaffordable or more affordable, PMI observes, adding that over long periods, home price growth and income growth tend to be similar.

The data are shown in the charts below.  The first one shows CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI), while the second graphs  actual levels of the HPI through July 2009, as well as the long-term trend based on the 1983-2001 house price data.  And the third charts the same relationships for the FHFA purchase-only HPI.

This stuff ain’t easily digestible, but it’s good for you.  Like carrots and leafy vegetables.  The explanation that follows the charts is worth reading and can well make clear what you’re seeing.

pmi chart 1 Continue reading