~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…

Where the Jobs Aren't

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 20, 2009 - 5:14pm

Last week we learned that the region lost almost 55,000 jobs between June 2008 and June 2009. The chart below indicates how largest San Diego sectors fared over that time period:

That chart looks a lot different from older versions in which the bubble-related sectors were the only ones racking up the big losses.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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San Diego Unemployment Hits the Double Digits

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 17, 2009 - 5:52pm

The local unemployment rate hit 10.1 percent last month, according to the latest estimates from California's Employment Development Department. The below graph shows that June's unemployment rate was notably worse than anything seen in the prior two recessions -- not that anyone was suggesting otherwise.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Home Sales per Trustee Sale

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 17, 2009 - 8:50am

In the comments to the prior post a graph of the sales-per-trustee-sale ratio was requested. Here it is:

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Foreclosures Consistently Outpacing Home Sales

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 15, 2009 - 1:55pm

I am the first to admit that I don't know exactly how this whole shadow inventory thing is going to play out. But I am certain that it is a legitimate area of concern.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Another Chapter in the Increasingly Boring Tale of the Shadow Inventory

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 10, 2009 - 4:22pm

This is all becoming a bit routine. I write about how little housing inventory is currently for sale in San Diego. Then I write about the apparent mountain of "shadow inventory" -- homes that have entered foreclosure, or may yet do so, but that are not yet on the market. And then I go on and on about the irony, market distortions, and general analytical weirdness that result from having so much shadow inventory looming alongside so little genuine inventory.

In my defense, sometimes I reverse the order in which I write about these things.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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June 2009 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 7, 2009 - 8:36pm

Well, we sure do appear to be having a good old fashioned spring (and now summer) rally.

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Site Upgrade Plus Private Messages

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 5, 2009 - 8:29pm

I upgraded the site software to get some security patches in. If anyone sees anything squirrely, please let me know at rich@piggington.com.

I also took another swipe at installing private message functionality. It's not the prettiest thing in the world, but as far as I can tell from my quick tests they finally got it working. As you might expect from the name, this module allows people to send private messages to other piggs without having to share email addresses or identities.

So feel free to give it a whirl and let me know if you run into any problems. You have to create a login, of course... after you log in the module can be accessed via the "Private messages" link in the left navigation.

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On the Radio This Sunday

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 3, 2009 - 5:14pm

I will be appearing on the voiceofsandiego.org radio show this Sunday, 12 noon, on AM 600 KOGO. Since we recorded the segment today, I already know that bagging on the CA Association of Realtors will be one of the topics du jour -- always a good time! An archive of the show should be put up here late Sunday or thereabouts.

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Fun, or Lack Thereof, With the Case-Shiller Index

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 1, 2009 - 9:57am

Nothing too exciting happened in the latest release of the Case-Shiller San Diego home price index. Unless the lack of a noticable decline qualifies as exciting. Which I suppose it kind of does, given the context.

The aggregate price index for San Diego County declined a mere .1 percent between March and April, the latest month measured. The stabilization is no big surprise considering the strength in other price measures and the run on inventory currently underway.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Back to Regular Shadow Inventory

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 28, 2009 - 7:34pm

Frequent readers know I've spilled a lot of virtual ink on the concept of "shadow inventory" -- the fairly vast category of homes that are in foreclosure but not for sale. This overhang of potential but not-yet-actual inventory contrasts with the very low levels of inventory currently for sale.

The title of this post refers to a recent entry describing how current inventory is even lower than it seems. That prior article contained a graph showing that the amount of current inventory is unusually low compared to the number of sales, even before taking account of the reverse-shadow inventory effect.

But while sales are numerous in comparison to available inventory, homes in foreclosure are quite numerous in comparison to sales.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Job Losses Accelerate (But What Does It All Mean?)

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 21, 2009 - 9:16pm

Between May 2008 and May 2009, according to the latest estimates, the San Diego economy lost 52,200 jobs. This 4 percent year-over-year decline is the fastest we've yet experienced during the current downturn.

The below graph shows the rate of job loss for the overall San Diego economy in orange. As usual I've also included the three sectors -- construction, finance, and retail -- that I have long contended grew unsustainably large as a result of the housing bubble. The green line indicates changes in employment outside the three bubble sectors:

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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More Moratoria

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 18, 2009 - 3:15pm

Yes, it's a word. I think.

Another California anti-foreclosure measure went into effect this week. It's called the "California Foreclosure Prevention Act," and it puts a 90-day moratorium on certain qualifying foreclosures. The name "California 90-Day Procrastination on a Subset of Foreclosures Act" was apparently deemed too unwieldy.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Reverse-Shadow Inventory

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 15, 2009 - 4:06pm

San Diego housing inventory dropped again last month, but supply may be even tighter than it appears. I'll talk about that more below, but first, let's have a look at the data.

The number of existing San Diego homes for sale last month was 32 percent lower than the same time last year, while the volume of sales was 19 percent higher. These two trends combined to make for the lowest supply of for-sale housing in years.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Mortgage Rates Explode Upward

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 11, 2009 - 12:53pm

Three weeks ago, according to quasi-government mortgage giant Freddie Mac, the average rate for 30-year fixed mortgages stood at 4.82 percent. This week, the average rate was 5.59 percent.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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May 2009 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 8, 2009 - 6:45pm

As I wrote a few days back at voiceofsandiego.org, we may just be experiencing a geniune spring fling:

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