The 2nd Housing Bubble of the 21st Century is well underway

July 29, 2015 – I just finished attending the Appraisal Institute’s AI Connect national conference in Dallas. Thankfully, these are inside as it has been 100+ degrees outside all week.

Ed Pinto of the American Enterprise Institute ended the conference with a great presentation that addressed the current status of the housing market. Some highlights follow:

From 9/1993 to 1/2006 housing was in a Seller’s Market, as defined by NAR, for 140 out of the 152 months. Not too many things that NAR puts out are worthwhile, but in this case, their definition of a Buyer’s and Seller’s Market has been very accurate for many decades. The 1/2006 end of the Seller’s Market ended with a streak of 99 consecutive months. Housing prices quickly tanked when the monthly supply of houses for sale changed to a Buyer’s Market.

Although we had a significant decline in home prices, we never did get below, or much below, the long-term average price of housing. i.e. house prices never did become a bargain like a normal bear market would entail. As the government did in the early 2000s, it implemented policies that stopped the decline before it could run its course. Thus, this second false bull market in house prices has occurred.

According to NAR, the current Seller’s Market is now 34 months old. Home prices in some markets are back to record highs. In fact, NAR just reported that the national home price average just hit a record high. The government has succeeded at re-inflating the market and getting nominal home prices back to high levels so the general public will think everything is fine again.

Since income for the general population is not increasing, the government will need to pull some strings to increase buying capacity to keep nominal home prices going up. Thus, you can be sure that leverage will continue to increase right thru the next peak in prices and for awhile into the next bear market. We will make sure people buy overpriced houses with record leverage so they can once again incur significant losses when the downturn occurs. That’s The American Dream apparently.

This top does not, and likely will not, be as extreme as the 2006 top. The 1937 downturn occurred from a much lower level than the 1929 top. But, a top is forming. The difficulty with tops in financial markets (my next white paper will show why residential real estate is a financial market and no longer an economic market) is they can take years to form. Bottoms in financial markets are very easy to call as they are usually ‘V-shaped.’

An interesting item Ed mentioned was about seller concessions – a topic that I am hearing about almost daily for some reason. Anyway….when seller concessions are above 3% up to 6%, default rates are 90% higher than when there are no seller concessions. Yikes!

A second interesting item he mentioned was from the FHFA. Their record of home prices going back to 1975 shows that the REAL (not nominal) rate of return on home prices has been an anemic 0.35% per year. This is in agreement with Shiller’s finding that real home prices have not changed since 1890.

As I have been telling people since I was a teenager, other than a car, the WORST investment you can make is buying a house. If prices aren’t going up, think how much you are really losing on a house. Sales commission at the end of your holding period. Maintenance, utilities, insurance, real estate taxes while you live in it. The biggest expense – mortgage interest. Even with the tax deduction, 70%+ of the mortgage interest is still an expense. No wonder in Germany 50% of the houses over $1MM are rentals! Some rich people have figured this out and realize the advantage of renting.

That’s it for now….I wanted to get my very first post out to the Mann Overboard blog. The Reviewer’s Tips blog has 2 posts to date. For now, if you have any comments, email me directly at GeorgeRMann@Aol.Com.

I will post when my 2nd White Paper is uploaded to this website…..soon hopefully.