Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It took a while, but we are in full fledged denial now. The number of contradictory reports that come through the news desk every day is boggling. On the one hand, you have the NAR putting out ads saying "it's a great time to buy or sell a home." But, every other report being filed is filled with accounts of people being hurt by the current market.

Lets look at a couple of the more recent ones.

There was recently a report about 5 Bubble Proof cities. Cited in the report:

  • SF
  • NY
  • Boston
  • LA
  • Seattle
Each one of these supposedly "Bubble Proof" cities has had numerous reports about trouble in the housing market. Lets start with San Francisco. Here are just a FEW of the excerpts from my news site:
The resale housing market continued to weaken in the third quarter with unit sales decreasing 31 percent across the Bay Area, year-over-year, according to a report released today by Prudential California Realty.
The sizzle has fizzled from the Bay Area housing market. Homes take longer to sell, buyers can negotiate concessions such as roof repairs, and the year-over-year median house price has fallen for the first time since the dot-com bust. Compared to a year ago, the Bay Area's median home price fell by 0.8 percent, or $5,000, in September to $611,000, according to a report released Tuesday by Data-Quick Information Systems.
It could take years for the wobbly housing market in the Bay Area and the rest of the country to regain its footing, but full-scale declines in the price of homes seem less likely, a top Federal Reserve official said Monday.
Boston Realtors were gloating for a few days last month. I distinctly remember seeing all those anti-bubble reports come across my screen. I remember thinking, "Really?" But those links don't even WORK now. The best I can do is find an article from Business Week referencing the report:
The Bay State Realtors picked a curious time -- given that interest rates are rising, and many housing markets are starting to soften -- to issue a report predicting that Boston housing was going to keep rising ever-upward in coming years. The report -- titled ``Refuting the Bubble'' -- claims Bay State home prices likely ``will continue to rise rather than decline in the coming months and years,'' according to this account in the Boston Herald.
I REALLY wanted to get the original article, because the realtors were so damned cocky about it. But when I searched the BostonHerald.com, I couldn't find it. What I DID find was a lovely piece entitled "Dark days for home sales: Weakest Sept. in decade." Among the jucier tidbits in it:
Massachusetts is facing what looks like its worst autumn real estate market since 1996, with no clear signs that prices are bottoming out.
“I think we still have some more to go on the downside,” economist John Bitner of Boston-based Eastern Bank said yesterday after the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported housing’s weakest September in a decade.
MAR said just 3,435 Massachusetts houses changed hands last month - a 23.9 percent plunge from September 2005 and the lowest September volume since 1996.
I won't bore you with news from NY, LA or Seattle. Needless to say, none of them are thriving. And these are the supposedly "bubble proof" cities.

It hasn't always been like this.

For a long time, the news reports were fairly consistent for specific regions of the country. Certain places would be reporting losses. Others would report that they were holding strong. There was at least uniformity in the signal.

But in the last few weeks, the amount of contradictory information coming out of the various news outlets has been growing. It is clear that not everyone is seeing the same reality. Some people, like NAR, think that now is a great time to buy. But, the people who actually have to do the buying seem to disagree.

If NAR thinks now is such a great time to buy a house, why don't all of their agents buy one? Remember during the boom when every realtor was also a wannabe flipper / developer? If the good times are indeed back, why not get a second bite at the apple? If every realtor out there bought a property, surely that would stimulate the market. It would be a great show of faith in the product. And, if the market goes up like they say, they will BANK.

Boy, how they could show us plebes how little we know about the housing market.

Of course, it will never happen.

They won't buy any houses. They'll just tell YOU to do it. Because they are not stupid. But they think you are. They know the market sucks. They know buying is a HUGE risk. And they don't want to be the sucker left holding the bag. So, next time your agent tells you how now is a great time to buy a house, give yourself a good laugh and ask them how many houses they have bought lately.