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U.S. Housing Update - How Far To The Bottom?

Housing-Market / US Housing Jul 13, 2009 - 03:46 PM GMT

By: Mike_Shedlock

Housing-Market

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleInquiring minds have been asking for another housing update.

Using the Japan Nationwide Land Prices model as my guide, here is how I have called things in real time.




My previous update was was on December 1 ,2008 in a post with the same name as this one Housing Update - How Far To The Bottom?

I just added the Summer 2009 arrow. Housing prices are now one notch closer to their final destination. The US Timeline scale is compressed. At the current pace, housing will bottom in about 7 years vs. 14 years in Japan.

Comparison to Case-Shiller

Inquiring minds may wish to compare the shape of the above chart to June 209 Case Shiller Release (April Data).



The chart above shows the index levels for the 10-City and 20-City Composite Indices. As of April 2009, average home prices across the United States are at similar levels to where they were in the middle of 2003. From the peak in the second quarter of 2006, the 10-City Composite is down 33.6% and the 20-City Composite is down 32.6%.



The chart above depicts the annual returns of the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite Home Price Indices. The 10-City and 20-City Composites declined 18.0% and 18.1%, respectively, in April compared to the same month in 2008. These are improvements over their returns reported for March, down 18.7% for both indices. For the past three months, the 10-City and 20-City Composites have recorded an improvement in annual returns. Record annual declines were reported for both indices with their respective January data, -19.4% for the 10-City Composite and -19.0% for the 20-City Composite.

“The pace of decline in residential real estate slowed in April,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. “In addition to the 10-City and 20-City Composites, 13 of the 20 metro areas also saw improvement in their annual return compared to that of March. Furthermore, every metro area, except for Charlotte, recorded an improvement in monthly returns over March. While one month’s data cannot determine if a turnaround has begun; it seems that some stabilization may be appearing in some of the regions. We are entering the seasonally strong period in the housing market, so it will take some time to determine if a recovery is really here.

Flashback March 26 2005

The initial data point was established in the post It's a Totally New Paradigm on March 26, 2005. Here are some excerpts from that post.

  • Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors says that "South Florida is working off of a totally new economic model than any of us have ever experienced in the past." He predicts that a limited supply of land coupled with demand from baby boomers and foreigners will prolong the boom indefinitely.

  • "I just don't think we have what it takes to prick the bubble," said Diane C. Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, who was an optimist during the 90's. "I don't think prices are going to fall, and I don't think they're even going to be flat."

  • Gregory J. Heym, the chief economist at Brown Harris Stevens, is not sold on the inevitability of a downturn. He bases his confidence in the market on things like continuing low mortgage rates, high Wall Street bonuses and the tax benefits of home ownership. "It is a new paradigm" he said.

Flashback October 27, 2005

Inquiring minds may wish to review Bernanke: There's No Housing Bubble to Go Bust.

Ben S. Bernanke does not think the national housing boom is a bubble that is about to burst, he indicated to Congress last week, just a few days before President Bush nominated him to become the next chairman of the Federal Reserve.

U.S. house prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years, noted Bernanke, currently chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, in testimony to Congress's Joint Economic Committee. But these increases, he said, "largely reflect strong economic fundamentals," such as strong growth in jobs, incomes and the number of new households.

Flashback February 12, 2008

Bernanke Expects Housing Recovery by Year End

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers Tuesday he expects the downtrodden U.S. housing sector to improve by the end of the year, a senator who participated in the closed-door meeting said.

"He let us believe that the housing situation should begin to ameliorate by the end of the year," said Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, told reporters.

"He gave a very good, succinct, short overview of where he thought the economy was right now and how it might move forward," said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Here are my thoughts from October 24, 2007 in Housing - The Worst Is Yet To Come.

Subprime resets peak this year but Alt-A problems which are just as big do not peak until 2011. In addition, the overall economy is slowing dramatically. There is going to be consumer led recession to deal with.

Unemployment has bottomed this cycle and is bound to rise dramatically.

That will further pressure housing prices in a very significant way. The worst (by a long shot) is yet to come. Remind me to start looking for a true bottom in 2011-2012. Perhaps we get a bounce somewhere along the way.

Please consider When Will Housing Bottom? for additional charts and details.

Housing Decline Fat Tails

The Case-Shiller charts suggest that the worst may finally be over. However, so far all we can say is that things are getting worse at a decreasing pace. This is not the same as getting better. Indeed it may take 2 years or more to cross the zero-line in the second Case-Shiller chart. That would be consistent with a bottom in 2011.

Thus I see no reason to switch from my long-held estimate of a 2011-2012 timeframe for a bottom. Furthermore, even once housing does bottom, do not expect a V shaped recovery. Housing prices are likely to remain weak especially in real (inflation adjusted) terms for another decade. For a clue as what to expect, take a look at the period from 1991 to 2000 in the first Case-Shiller chart. Expect a similarly long "fat tail" once housing does bottom.

If you are a believer in hyperinflation, then housing is a "sure thing". Indeed it was a "sure thing" last year and 5 years ago as well and we know how that turned out. Looking ahead, hyperinflation beliefs might still be very costly given the charts, history, and economic fundamentals suggest no such thing.

By Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management . Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.

Visit Sitka Pacific's Account Management Page to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

I do weekly podcasts every Thursday on HoweStreet and a brief 7 minute segment on Saturday on CKNW AM 980 in Vancouver.

When not writing about stocks or the economy I spends a great deal of time on photography and in the garden. I have over 80 magazine and book cover credits. Some of my Wisconsin and gardening images can be seen at MichaelShedlock.com .

© 2009 Mike Shedlock, All Rights Reserved

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