~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…

Cheap Home Prices Rebounded, Higher-Priced Homes Slid in December

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 2, 2010 - 5:18pm
The Case-Shiller data for December, released last week and covered in detail by Kelly, exhibited the same pattern that we have seen in recent months: prices in the high tier continued to drop even as the low tier rebounded further, with the middle tier and aggregate indexes more or less splitting the difference.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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The Nuclear Housing Bailout Option

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 26, 2010 - 8:32pm
A couple of interesting bailout-related items crossed my desk today.  I have given up on trying to keep track of all the bailouts, but these both relate directly to our beloved topic of shadow inventory so I thought I'd note them.

First, the White House is trying to ban any foreclosure unless the loan in question has been screened for HAMP, the government's flavor-of-the-month home loan modification program.  As I understand it, HAMP has been fairly useless, for reasons I will describe below.  But no matter -- an extra mandatory step to screen every mortgage for eligibility will further delay the foreclosure process, perhaps resulting in even more delinquent mortgages remaining in pre-foreclosure limbo.

The reason that HAMP and the government's other varied foreclosure prevention schemes haven't made much of a splash is that they don't address the main cause of foreclosures: that many homeowners owe more than their homes are worth.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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January 2010 Resale Housing Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 21, 2010 - 9:13pm

The median price per square foot declined between December and January for both detached homes and condos:

Prices by this measure have really gone nowhere since September 2009.  As I noted at the Voice last week, the rally that began in early 2009 has clearly come to an end. 

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New Foreclosure Activity On the Decline

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 19, 2010 - 12:19pm

I haven't focused on new foreclosure activity for a while because the topic has become somewhat irrelevant, analytically speaking.  The question is not whether a large "shadow inventory" of foreclosed homes exists -- it does -- but whether and over what timeframe that inventory will actually become relevant by entering the market.   That being the case, the question of how fast the shadow inventory might be growing isn't terribly high on my list of compelling topics.

It is nonetheless at least mildly interesting to note that new foreclosures, as measured by mortgage default notices, have slowed substantially. 

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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The Home Price Rally is Over For Now

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 9, 2010 - 8:01pm

The data rodeo will be out shortly, my friends. In the meantime I just put a price chart for January up at voiceofsandiego.org.

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Higher-Priced Homes Still Sitting Out the Rebound

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 29, 2010 - 12:51pm

Earlier this week, Kelly Bennett gave us the lowdown on the Case-Shiller home price data for November.  I'm going to just add a couple of things.

First, I have updated the requisite post-peak chart...

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Improvement in Rate of Job Loss Stalls Out

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 23, 2010 - 4:03pm

Recent months have seen a fairly steady improvement in the year-over-year rate of job losses for San Diego County.  That annual rate of change was still firmly negative -- just less so than it had been previously.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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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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