Housing market

Analysis of the (primarily) San Diego housing market.

San Diego Tophat and Monocle Sales Plummet

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 19, 2006 - 8:34am

Will Carless at voiceofsandiego.org has written a piece about an apparent exodus of wealthy investors from San Diego real estate. It has an interesting bit of data: 18% of San Diego home purchases last year were made for investment purposes. (This is out-and-out investing, not the stealth speculation I discussed last week).

Elsewhere in the article, various financial advisors tell us that it may be a good time to unload those alligators. "If you have an investment property, this is a wonderful time to get the heck out," counsels one. I completely agree... though I would posit that last year would have been an even more wonderful time.

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The Forest and the Trees

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 17, 2006 - 9:23am

The Union-Tribune recently issued a piece about last month's housing numbers. As is usual in the media these days, the tone was "cautiously optimistic." In other words, things have seriously slowed down, but the median price is still hanging in there... so things are going to be fine, right? Karevoll illustrates the sentiment nicely:

“It looks to me as if the market, at all levels, has ratcheted itself back a notch but is still stable,” said DataQuick analyst John Karevoll. “There is nothing I can see that looks particularly ominous.”

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Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 10, 2006 - 11:08am

Calculated Risk informs us that the new guidance on non-traditional mortgages may be with us in a few months.

Lansner at the OC Register is worrying about late tax payments, correctly identifying that homeowners are starting to get squeezed now that rates are rising and prices have flattened.

And—I know this is week-old news, but it bears repeating—the wonderful folks at the NAR inform us that 40% of homes purchased last year were for investment or vacation purposes. That, friends, is a little something we call speculative excess. But it's ok, says NAR: "Some of these purchases may be a third, fourth or fifth investment property, showing that housing is a good investment." Huh?

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Housing Market Report: March 2006

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 4, 2006 - 10:03am

Below we will take a look at the action in the housing market as we wrap up the winter season. Data to be crunched includes prices, price growth (or shrinkage) between varying regions, sales volume, and inventory. We'll also discuss the merits of the "median price" statistic as an indicator for real estate pricing power.

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A Brief History of the Last Housing Bust

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 3, 2006 - 9:45am

One of the forum participants, a long-time San Diego appraiser, has posted a really good summary of how things played out during the last down cycle in the local real estate market. I think it's very instructive for those of us who weren't punched in to the housing scene back then—so much so that it deserves to be its own post. Without further ado, quoting "Bugs":

I think all cycles play out a little differently. But I also think that past predicts the future.

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Downtown and Underwater

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 2, 2006 - 9:32pm

The Union-Tribune is running a story about the slowing Downtown condo market. They actually cite several examples of people losing money! Here's one example...

Carol Cavanaugh, a lawyer who works downtown, bought a condo in The Grande south tower for $623,000 in late 2004. She thought she would like the convenience of being close to the office, but she doesn't like high-rise living. She put the unit on the market for $570,000 to $599,000.

She has received two low-ball offers, both from real estate brokers. But Cavanaugh is going to stick it out until she gets what she wants – even if it is a loss.

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Bubble Money in OC

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 20, 2006 - 10:33am

In the OC Register, Jonathan Lansner connects the dots about housing and Orange County's economy. In discussing a burgeoning slowdown in OC (corroborated by slowing profits by businesses and increased skipped payments by consumers), Lansner notes:

In the past year, $100 billion was lent against Orange County property - a sum equal to the gross domestic product of nations such as Iraq or New Zealand.

Local lending's totality is up 2 percent in a year. That ample flow of money, if nothing else, may be allowing troubled property owners in this town to put off harsh decisions.

Yes, exactly. The press is slowly but surely coming around to the idea that the housing bubble's enormous (but temporary!) stimulative effect on the economy is an issue of great import.

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Mortgage Reset Mania

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 15, 2006 - 7:03pm

This week is kind of a mess, so I'm going to have to make do with a "drive-by posting," in which I simply point to someone else's content.

Today's someone-else is Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture, a financial blog of which I am quite fond. And the content is his recent post on the impending wave of mortgage resets in 2006 and 2007: $2 trillion dollars worth of mortgages, to be exact, or about 1/4 of all mortgages.

Many borrowers in this category still have plenty of equity.
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Good Luck With That

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 13, 2006 - 11:07pm

The LA Times is running an article on the wave of condo/hotels, which appear to be bubble's latest foray into absurdity. Why buy an overpriced condo, when you could buy an overpriced condo that you only get to live in for one month per year?

As an aside, lest you start to think that San Diego is overcome by doom and gloom, I give you a potential buyer at the Hard Rock Hotel:

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Drink the Poole-Aid

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 11, 2006 - 7:26pm

A speech on housing by the Fed's William Poole made the rounds this week. I thought I'd link to it because it clearly illustrates a point that I think is crucial to always keep in mind: that the folks at the Federal Reserve are politicians first and economists second.

Let's jump right in with this line from his speech:

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Condo Hell Freezes Over

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 8, 2006 - 10:14am

Folks in the UTC area (fondly called "Condo Hell" by inhabitants--I know because I used to be one) may be interested in today's Voice of San Diego piece on the University City housing market. This area has apparently sat out the latter part of the boom, with prices pretty stagnant since late 2003. The zip code winners/losers list I recently put together shows the UTC area as having a 3% median price increase over the past year... positive, at least, but not enough to cover the cost of selling.

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Housing Market Report: February 2006

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 3, 2006 - 9:36pm

This article will examine trends in San Diego home price levels, breadth, sales volume, and inventory in order to determine where the undercurrents are taking the market. Additionally we will take a look at a warning light that has started to flash for the local economy.

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When Mortgage Brokers Attack

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 1, 2006 - 5:30pm

A reader forwarded me a hilarious Craigslist posting. This is from, of all places, the "casual encounters" section:

If you are interested in having some fun with a cute (5'4" 110 lbs, size 3), and openminded girl...

Hmmm... sounds pretty good so far. But read on...

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Disappearing Demand

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 28, 2006 - 11:50pm

Will Carless at the Voice of San Diego writes about January's steep home sale decline. While the January year-over-year decline was particularly dramatic, the trend towards shrinking sale volume has been firmly entrenched for months. And, complete lack of concern on the part of the interviewees notwithstanding, long-term trends in declining San Diego sales volume have usually lead to declining home prices in the past.

I will examine the latest housing market data in great detail in the next Monthly Housing Report, which I hope to release tomorrow.

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Big Housing Players Turning Bearish

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 27, 2006 - 10:13am

Thanks to a reader who pointed me at a Business Week article called Jitters on the Homefront (warning: this is BW subscriber access only). The article interviews famed housing bear Robert Shiller along with Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo and KB Homes CEO Bruce Karatz. Shiller's thoughts are no surprise, but I was pretty shocked by the bearishness of the two CEOs, especially Mozilo. Here is a brief excerpt; emphasis is mine:

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