~Welcome to the Econo-Almanac~

I started this website in mid-2004 to chronicle San Diego’s spectacular housing bubble.  The purpose of the site remains, as ever, to provide objective and evidence-based analysis of the San Diego housing market. A quick guide to the site follows:

  • New visitors are advised to begin with the Bubble Primer or (if wondering about the site name) the FAQ list.
  • Housing articles I’ve written are found in the main section below.
  • Discussion topics posted by site users are found in the “Active Forum Topics” box to the lower right.
  • This website is an avocation; by day I help people with their investments as a financial advisor*.  Market commentary, an overview of our investment approach, and more can be found on my firm's website.

Thanks for stopping by…

Shambing Away from Cheapness But Still Milling About In The General Locale of Affordability

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 17, 2010 - 10:05pm

Well, I thought the old "Shambling Toward Affordability" title for this series of articles was a bit pithier but it just doesn't quite work now that home prices have been rising for the better part of a year.  In any case, regardless of the what we want to call it, it's time to check in on San Diego housing valuations as of year-end 2009.

The 2009 home price rally reversed the direction of the shamble, but it didn't really change the overall picture, which is that San Diego home prices (in aggregate, of course) are still at middling levels of valuation.

Here's the price to per capita income ratio:

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December 2009 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 10, 2010 - 5:45pm

The San Diego housing market managed to squeek out another gain in the median price per square foot as 2009 drew to a close:

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Shadow Inventory is For Real

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 2, 2010 - 3:09pm

It feels like I've been writing about "shadow inventory" -- homes that are in foreclosure but haven't hit the market yet -- forever.  Yet no flood of foreclosures has yet inundated the market, and as a matter of fact, inventory has been quite scarce lately.  Is there anything to this shadow inventory concept?

As Kelly Bennett documented in a recent blog entry, the answer is yes.  Kelly noted as of Tuesday, there were 19,453 San Diego homes that were in foreclosure but that were not yet listed for sale.  That, my friends, is your shadow inventory.

For purely illustrative purposes, let's try to understand what the effect would be if all these homes in foreclosure were to suddenly hit the market. 

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Case-Shiller: Low End Rebounds, High End Languishes

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 29, 2009 - 9:55pm
The latest release of the Case-Shiller home price index showed that San Diego's home price rally continued into October.

As it did last month, the high-priced tier once again put in the weakest showing -- an increase of .2 percent for the month compared to a 1.8 percent increase in the low-priced tier.  The middle tier rose by .5 percent and the aggregate index by .4 percent.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Ramsey Su's Real Estate Outlook for 2010

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 24, 2009 - 4:04pm
It wouldn't be a proper Christmas without a little holiday cheer from legendary housing bubble analyst Ramsey Su.  So pour yourself a couple buckets of egg nog and read on...

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Another Less-Bad Employment Data Point

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 23, 2009 - 4:34pm

I wrote Monday about the increase in employment at San Diego businesses between October and November.  I also discussed how the year-over-year change in payroll employment, while still firmly negative, had become steadily less so in recent months.

Today we'll look at the other job survey I've been writing about of late... 

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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"Less Bad" Trend in San Diego Employment Picks up the Pace

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 21, 2009 - 9:29pm

Employment at San Diego businesses dropped on a year-over-year
basis, according to the latest estimates from the EDD.  But the
trend we've seen in recent months of consecutively smaller annual job
declines strengthened once again.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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November 2009 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 15, 2009 - 5:49pm

November saw the 7-month rally in San Diego home prices, as measured by the median price per square foot, come to an end:

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Dueling Job Data, Revisited

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 14, 2009 - 3:03pm

Last month I wrote about some mixed signals in the data from two different job surveys.  While the rate of job loss at San Diego companies was improving, the rate of loss among San Diego's residents -- regardless of where they are employed -- was hitting new highs.  The graph accompanying this article shows that this gap widened further in October.

I asked local economist Kelly Cunningham what he thought of the disparities between the two job surveys since the recession began. 

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Housing's Summer Super-Bounce Runs Out of Steam

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 6, 2009 - 12:01pm

After rising for seven months in a row, San Diego resale home prices finally took a breather in November. The median price per square foot actually rose by .9 percent for condos, but it dropped by 1.3 percent for single family homes, of which many more are sold.  A volume-weighted aggregate of the two dropped by .7 percent for the month, ending the streak that began in April.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Forecasting the Real Estate Non-Market

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 30, 2009 - 3:12pm

Readers may have noticed that I don't make the kinds of sweeping predictions about the housing market that I used to.

There are two reasons for this.

The first is that housing prices are no longer at an extreme. This can be seen in a semi-recent update to my price-to-income and price-to-rent charts, which show local home valuations returning from orbit and heading back to earth over the past several years. It's pretty easy, when homes are stunningly overpriced, to forecast that they will eventually reach something quite a bit closer to their fundamentally justifiable values. But once the valuations go from "extreme" to "somewhat reasonable," you just don't have that same analytical wind at your back.

The second reason for the dearth of forecasts is more specific to this particular time, place, and subject matter.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Home Price Bounce Falters at the High End

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 24, 2009 - 7:59pm

The Case-Shiller index numbers for September are in. As had been suggested by the median price data, the aggregate Case-Shiller index ended up rising for another month.

There was an interesting divergence, however. The aggregate index rose by .9 percent between August and September, while the low and medium price tiers each rose by 1.8 percent. But the high-priced tier actually dropped by .9 percent. This is the first drop in any of the index tiers since the price bounce began in early 2009.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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More Mixed Signals from the Job Market

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 20, 2009 - 8:21pm

The annual change in the number of people employed at San Diego companies improved again last month. Between November 2008 and November 2009, local companies shed 52,200 jobs, a decline of 4.0 percent. Which, as miserable as it may sound, is the best year-over-year job number in six months:

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Dueling Job Surveys

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 18, 2009 - 6:08pm

A commenter over at Piggington (my own little internet stomping ground) raised an interesting point in regard to last month's article on San Diego employment. The reader noted that the monthly data I cite measures the number of jobs held in San Diego with no regard for whether the job holders are actually San Diego residents. There is a separate data series that tracks the employment status of San Diego residents whether they are employed in the county or elsewhere. And, for the time being, the two job surveys are providing mixed signals.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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The Housing Battleship-Turned-Party Boat

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 13, 2009 - 7:30pm

A while back, I noticed a funny thing about the year-over-year rate of change in the Case-Shiller index of San Diego home prices. It seemed that movements in the annual price change rate from positive to negative or from negative to positive provided a good indicator that the long-term price trend had changed direction.

Allow me to demonstrate with some graphs.

The graph below shows the home price index in blue with the year-over-year rate of change for the index in orange. It covers a ten-year period more or less centered around the early-1990s housing bust.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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