~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…

Q&A in the OC Register

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 5, 2011 - 9:40am

At the OC Register, Jon Lansner has put a brief Q&A with me and blogging and the housing market. Perhaps some Piggs will find it interesting:

Blogs keep real estate media honest

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Case-Shiller Flattened Out in November

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 1, 2011 - 6:50pm
Just a quick update on the November Case-Shiller numbers.  After the surprisingly abrupt decline in October, the aggregate index flattened out in November:



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Frail Job Market Ends 2010 On an Up Note

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 25, 2011 - 8:58pm
The San Diego job market went more or less nowhere in 2010.

This is clear from the chart below, which measures seasonally-adjusted employment over the past several years.  The year 2010 began on a positive note, first and foremost because the exceedingly rapid job losses that had characterized the prior two years finally came to a halt.  The stabilization of the job market was itself good news.  On top of that, local employment managed to grow -- albeit quite slowly -- for the first half of the year.  (The blip up and then back down in May was the result of temporary census hiring, but without that distortion employment increased through June).



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December 2010 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 9, 2011 - 7:26pm
Well, so much for the spring 2010 double-tax-credit-stimulated rally.  The last of the effects of that entire affair have been wiped out with the latest month's drop in the median price per square foot.  Prices by this measure were down in December by 3.5 percent for single family homes, 2.4 percent for condos, and 3.0 percent in aggregate.  This brings the overall median price per square foot down to 1.2% lower than it was in December 2009 -- the first year-over-year decline in this price measure since October 2009.


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Home Prices Dropped Sharply in October

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 29, 2010 - 1:05pm
The October release of the Case-Shiller index showed that San Diego home prices declined by 1.5 percent for the month.  This is a steep drop by recent standards -- it's been fifteen months since we saw a monthly index change of more than 1.5 percent in either direction.

Here is how the index price tiers have fared since the early-2009 trough. 



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Job Market Sleepwalks Through November

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 21, 2010 - 3:53pm
San Diego County employment rose slightly between October and November, according to the Employment Development Department's estimates.  The bulk of that increase, however, was owed to seasonal retail hiring.

The effects of the holidays can be seen in the following two graphs.  The first does not adjust for seasonality, and shows an increase of 3,700 jobs:



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org


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November 2010 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 11, 2010 - 3:20pm
The median price per square foot for detached homes didn't budge between October and November.  This fit nicely into the "flat-to-down" home price thesis I've been advancing in recent months.  The 7.4% monthly rise in the condo median made for quite a poorer fit to my theory, however.



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Employment Grows in One Sense, Shrinks in Another

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 23, 2010 - 7:31pm
The number of people employed in San Diego County increased half a percent between September and October, according to the Employment Development Department's latest estimates:



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Home Prices Still Tracking Months of Inventory

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 17, 2010 - 6:41pm
Back in July I put up a chart showing that the number of months' worth of housing inventory was highly correlated to home price changes.  That same chart suggested that, in accordance with a longstanding rule of thumb, six months' of inventory seemed to mark the line between upward and downward pressure on home prices.

Below is an update of that chart...




continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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October 2010 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 5, 2010 - 7:31pm
October was a down month for the median price per square foot.  By this measure, detached homes were down .8%, condos by 3.3%, and the aggregate number by 1.6%:



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Case-Shiller Index Declines for First Time in Sixteen Months

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 26, 2010 - 5:31pm
As anticipated, the Case-Shiller index of San Diego home prices fell in August.



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Foreclosures May Be Just a Sideshow in Paperwork Scandal

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 16, 2010 - 9:29am
I'm a finance and economics nerd, not a legal nerd, so I'm trying to make heads or tails of the whole foreclosure signing mess just like everyone else.   Fortunately a friend sent along a Citigroup research piece, summarizing the views of a Georgetown law professor named Adam Levitin, that I found very enlightening.  Unfortunately, the piece is proprietary so I can't link to it.  But I will try to sum up some of the major points.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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September 2010 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 10, 2010 - 8:04pm
Now that I have a version of Excel that allows a greatly expanded color selection, I took the opportunity to update the graphs to match the site's muted theme.  (I'm using a loose definition of "now"... I figure there is wiggle room to the effect of a year or so... but let's not quibble about the details).

What's that you say?  You're interested in the actual data, and don't want to read a discussion about color schemes?

Well.  It takes all kinds, I guess.

Price-wise, the data didn't have anything too exciting to offer:



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Foreclosure Freeze Could Have Mixed Results

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 8, 2010 - 6:34pm
As many of you have doubtless read over the past week or so, it seems that some loan servicers have been a bit lax in following those pesky "rules" when processing foreclosures. 

In some states, California not among them, the foreclosure process requires that servicers sign an affidavit swearing that they have confirmed certain facts about the loan to be foreclosed upon.  In their efforts to blaze through all the piled-up foreclosures, some servicers signed such forms in bulk without having actually confirmed the individual facts.  This puts the legitimacy of some foreclosures into question.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Home Prices Rose in July; High Tier Weak Again

Submitted by Rich Toscano on September 30, 2010 - 3:29pm
The Case-Shiller index of San Diego home prices was up by .7 percent between June and July... 



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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