~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…

June 2010 Resale Housing Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 18, 2010 - 6:07pm
I'd say the best part of July is not the lifting of the June Gloom, but the fact that I won't have to talk about the "double dip" any more.  Well, maybe a few more times.  Like now, for instance.  You will recall that June was the last month in which first-time buyers could get both the $8,000 federal tax credit and the $10,000 state tax credit.  The Feds later extended the June closing deadline to accomodate short sales, but they didn't announce that until more recently.  Because people buying before the April deadline thought they had to close by June, the tax credit's effect should have been used up in June for the great majority of cases.


It actually appears that the effect of the double dip may have been used up even before that.  The median price per square foot actually fell in June despite the expiring stimulus.  It dropped by a giant 10.6% for condos, more than erasing last month's almost-as-wacky gain.  But even the far less volatile single family median price per square foot fell by 1.4 percent.

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Rising Inventory Could Stall Home Price Rally

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 1, 2010 - 10:40pm
The economics blog Calculated Risk put up a very interesting graph last week that showed the relationship between housing inventory and home prices at a national level.  It was so interesting, in fact, that I decided to "borrow" the concept and recreate the graph for San Diego County.

It is below, but it requires some explanation...

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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Home Prices Rose Across the Board in April

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 29, 2010 - 4:44pm
All three of the Case-Shiller home price tiers for San Diego rose moderately in the month of April.  The low tier was back on top with a 1.0 percent rise, compared to .5 percent increase for the middle tier and a .3 percent rise for the high tier.

These numbers followed a very unusual March in which the previously stagnant high tier registered a huge increase and the formerly robust low tier actually declined.  April's price movements were a lot more in line with what we've seen during the price bounce that's prevailed since last spring.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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San Diego's Job Growth Streak Carries On

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 23, 2010 - 5:08pm
As it has every month since January, according to the latest estimates from the state of California, San Diego's regional employment grew in May. 

But what (as I imagine some of the more bearish readers are thinking, and, perhaps, readying to inform me via electronic nastygram) of the effect of temporary hiring for the US Census?  It's a fair question.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that short-lived census jobs accounted for a over 95 percent of nationwide hiring in May.  Isn't the same thing going on here?

No, as it turns out.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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The Many Faces of Shadow Inventory

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 20, 2010 - 2:53pm
After the last entry on foreclosure activity, a couple of readers sent in articles with more data relevant to the topic of "shadow inventory."

A commenter at my own site linked to a May Union-Tribune article about mortgage delinquencies.  Delinquencies are defined as mortgages on which payments are late by a certain number of days (60 in this case).  The reason this figure is interesting is that it captures all currently troubled mortgages, not just those that have been served with Notices of Default.  So delinquencies are a more inclusive measure of potential shadow inventory.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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Foreclosures Still Piling Up

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 16, 2010 - 7:44pm

Let's check in on San Diego foreclosure activity...

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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May 2010 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 9, 2010 - 4:06pm
Before we begin the Rodeo, you might be interested in a piece I just put up at voiceofsandiego.org on National Froth Day, when we commemorate Greenspan's first utterance of that legendary euphemism.

Assuming you have now read the afore-linked piece, celebrated Froth Day, and eventually sobered up, let's move on the to last month's housing data.
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Case-Shiller High Tier Comes Alive

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 25, 2010 - 7:59pm
After languishing since last summer even as the mid- and low-priced tiers rallied, the high-priced tier of the Case-Shiller home price index finally showed some signs of life.  The high tier of the index, comprising the most expensive one-third of homes sold during the measurement period, leapt 2.9 percent between February and March. 

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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Job Growth Notches Another Positive Month

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 23, 2010 - 6:42pm
San Diego employment growth continued its 2010 streak by rising for another month in April.

The graph below shows monthly San Diego employment since 2007:

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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San Diego Population Grows Despite Continued Domestic Outflow

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 17, 2010 - 7:50pm
Here's something we haven't looked at for a long time: San Diego population growth and migration patterns.

This was a favorite topic of mine back in the day when San Diego's housing bubble cheerleaders implied some sort of population explosion via their favorite catch-phrase, "Everyone wants to live here."  In fact, San Diego's population was growing quite modestly at the height of the boom.  And San Diego's supply of housing was growing faster than its population.  And domestic migration was firmly negative, meaning that more Americans were moving out of San Diego than moving in.  The mild population growth was in fact due to foreign immigration and, moreso, to new San Diegans being born.  (My little joke at the time was that even Countrywide wasn't yet making home loans to fetuses).

But I digress.  The point is that this once-popular topic has lately been neglected here at Nerd's Eye View.  Let's have a look at the latest numbers:

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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April 2010 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 7, 2010 - 7:01pm
After March's surge to the upside, the median price per square foot pulled back in April:

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Case-Shiller Price Trends Shifted in February

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 2, 2010 - 2:40pm
Since the second half of 2009, the general trend has been for the low-priced tier of the Case-Shiller home price index to rise strongly, the high-priced tier to drift mildly downward, and the mid-priced tier to split the difference with a more tempered increase. 

February bucked that trend.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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Further Evidence of Improving Job Conditions

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 24, 2010 - 6:16pm
Late last year I wrote a series of posts comparing two sets of available San Diego job surveys.  The first was the "establishment survey," which polls local employers and attempts to measure the number of people working for San Diego businesses regardless of where they live.  The second was the "household survey," which polls San Diego residents in order to find out how many residents are working, regardless of whether they work in the county or not.  The household survey also includes the self-employed, while the establishment survey (as we'd expect from a survey of businesses) does not.

At the time of these articles, the two surveys were providing mixed signals...

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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My Day Job

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 20, 2010 - 8:51pm
A while back, in reference to my personal move into the investment world, I wrote this:

Don't worry, I'm not going to start incessantly shilling for the new business. However, I may occasionally shill for the new business.

It's actually been 3 1/2 years since I put up that post, so I guess I didn't even live up to my threat to shill occasionally.  But now, on the occasion of our having recently completed a track record of our investment performance, I thought I'd take the opportunity to do so.

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March 2010 Resale Housing Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 19, 2010 - 9:26am
As discussed last week, the median price per square foot of San Diego resale homes rallied hard in March. 

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