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US Housing Market Forecast 2008

Housing-Market / US Housing Jan 07, 2008 - 05:28 AM GMT

By: Dr_Housing_Bubble

Housing-Market Firstly, Dr. Housing Bubble 1 Million Visitors! 200th Housing Post. If you were to ask me in September of 2006 if I would still be blogging, the answer would have been no. From multiple estimates, there are approximately 50 million to 70 million blogs out there. It seems like there is a bubble in blogs! Many blogs do not survive past a few months because it does take commitment and a solid readership.

That is why I wanted to take this moment, how fitting that it is the 200 th post, and thank all readers to this site. Whether you agree with the content or not I do appreciate each and everyone of you that take the time to read the articles. I was looking at the numbers today and there are 3,053 comments left on this site since I started blogging. Many of you have contributed to the housing dialogue even when it was unpopular. Thank you for doing so.

When I started this site, there really wasn't too many “bubble blogs” out there. You had a handful of bloggers yet the majority focused on general economics, gold, and other financial issues except the major housing and credit bubble that we were living in. In the matter of two years, this blogging niche exploded. It would be easy to take all credit for the explosion of traffic but realistically people hungered for an alternative source of media and many realized that this housing market had gone off track. If you were to look at it scientifically, bubble blogs exploded just about the time the housing market peaked. Now I know many other sites have surpassed that 1 million hurdle but I think this is a big moment for the site.

Now why blog about real estate especially about real estate in California ? I invest in out of state rental property and believe that real estate bought at the right price, is the best investment you will ever make. If I didn't believe this, I wouldn't own real estate. I may be one of the few so called bubble bloggers who actually owns any property. So why not move out of the state? I am a native born Californian and believe many readers are in the same boat. I love the area. This is my home. I have no problem leasing a home in an area of my choice while gaining the benefits of real estate with property bought elsewhere at the right price. In fact, the majority of the 10,000,000 residents in Los Angeles County rent . This is always an argument levied on those that do not own. Leasing is the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet. No, getting a risky mortgage at a peak price is the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet. However, California has gotten to a point where middle class families cannot afford a basic starter home without going with exotic financing.

The argument many housing bulls will throw out is that income doesn't matter. Well once all the creative financing died down income does matter; in fact during the ABC presidential debates yesterday both Republicans and Democrats polled mentioned that the economy was the number one issue. And if you want any hard evidence of a bubble, just take a look at our Real Homes of Genius section where we track over priced homes throughout the state. Countless people that I know and you may know, had such a psychological desire to own a home that they bought homes in the last few years disregarding all evidence that a bubble was imminent. Many felt that if the housing payment became too much, they would simply sell. Others had dreams of making a hefty sum where home appreciation hit 20+ percent on a year over year basis. For those of you not in the California area, there was a period where homes were going up $100,000 on a yearly basis.

Three years in L.A. County where the year over year appreciation rate was 20+ percent. From October of 2002 to October of 2005, appreciation rates measured on a yearly basis hovered around 20 percent. In fact, in June of 2004 we hit a 32.3 percent year over year gain! Surreal. Something was not right about that. And the fact that housing has steadily been declining for a year shows how we were in fact in a bubble fueled by easy financing and to a large extent, greed.

What to Expect for 2008?

I've made multiple predictions throughout the many articles that housing was going to decline in late 2007 or early 2008. In fact, in late 2006 and early 2007 the signs were already pointing to this slowdown via leading indicators. This wasn't rocket science. Inventories were rising, delinquencies were faltering, builders were scaling back, and yet not much was said about the impending crash since prices were still hitting record highs.

At this time, many housing bulls were predicting that housing would be positive for the year and some even went out and said there would be double-digit appreciation! I kept looking at incomes and how people were financing their homes and clearly, they were stretched to the absolute credit max. In fact, even Ben Bernanke was quoted as saying that the subprime problem would be contained. The same subprime problem that brought about a credit freeze in August and the same non-problem that the central banks are now combating with and has spread into virtually every area of the credit markets; credit markets that include other areas aside from scapegoated subprime.

From year-end of 2003 to about the middle of 2007 there were about 5 million subprime loans originated. Of these 5 million loans 2.5 million are still out there with $526 billion still looking to reset from high 7 to 9 percent rates to 10 to 12 percent rates. In no shape or form are we out of this mess. And many of the 2.5 million loans that are no longer on the books are no longer there because an appreciating market masked a lot of bad financial moves. People that got in trouble were able to sell in 2005, 2006, and possibly early 2007. Now, this option is off the table for many metro areas with declining housing prices. And with poor employment and stagnant wages, any housing payment is going to hurt. It just goes to show the fine line many people were walking. Going zero down or with very small amounts of money, a 5 percent decline wiped out any equity position they had in the home. Remember that surge of homeownership rates? Well we are almost back to pre-exotic financing level rates.

2008 is going to be a very busy year for the housing markets but more importantly, the overall health of the global economy. With unemployment suddenly spiking to 5 percent, it is clear that the credit contagion is spreading throughout the markets and folks are simply in debt up to their eye-balls. We are going to have a very busy year in 2008 and I appreciate you taking the time to wander on over to Dr. Housing Bubble!

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By Dr. Housing Bubble

Author of Real Homes of Genius and How I Learned to Love Southern California and Forget the Housing Bubble

Dr. Housing Bubble Archive

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