Tags: Barry Ritholtz
He is a terrific speaker and is always guilty of providing nothing less than clear cut commentary on the economic world around us. Plus he likes it when I call him irreverent.
This time we talk strategic non-foreclosure, existing home sales, interest rates, going to zero and the dumbest smart people in the room.
Check out the podcast
In reference to my New York Times quote this weekend by Vivian Toy – Bidding Wars Resume:
Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, estimated that two-thirds of the roughly 4,000 [8,389] apartments for sale in Manhattan are priced too high for the current market.
“So,” Mr. Miller said, “you have this weird situation right now where you have above-average inventory, but people are fighting over the ones that are priced correctly.”
(I’m not sure where the 4,000 number came from because Manhattan 3Q 09 showed 8,389 but the specific amount is irrelevant.)
The difference between a bidding war of two years ago and the current market is the irrational nature of bidding wars back then – it was all about “winning.” The market today is about obtaining value – with prices having fallen an average of 25% since pre-Lehman.
Also, there is a larger disconnect between buyers and sellers than a few years ago as measured by the lower pace of sales. There was a reprieve this summer when sales surged, but listing inventory is still above average levels and a higher level of listings are priced above market level leaving purchasers fighting over a smaller selection.
Although this is anecdotal, I do believe that there are fewer bidding wars that occur above list price than we saw a few years ago.
When my friend and bigger than macro Big Picture blogger Barry Ritholtz refers to me as “Our man Jonathan Miller drops the truth bomb” I am confident I nailed the current state of bidding wars.
The August 2009 S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report showed continued month over month improvement while the decline from the prior year same period continues to ease. Reporting on this report has been decidedly positive over the past 6 months, cited by many as evidence that housing has bottomed. The report shows that prices are at 2003 levels, which is consistent with my personal experiences with the systemic breakdown of the mortgage process. Back in 2003, the pressure came on the appraisal industry full bore to keep the pipeline full as underwriting restrictions became seemingly non-existent.
Here’s the press release.
My friend Barry Ritholtz over at Big Picture does a very interesting analysis on the high end of the market showing that it now only represents 10% of sales over $500k, a staggeringly small percentage. Barry and I are speaking on a panel today at The Realty Alliance.
Since CSI index is value weighted, the shift in the mix and surge in lower priced foreclosures will likely turn CSI negative in the near future, as early as next month.
In fact, the CSI press release suggest this and feels like our expectations are being managed a tad:
Once again, however, we do want to remind people of the upcoming expiration of the Federal First-Time Buyer’s Tax Credit in November and anticipated higher unemployment rates through year-end. Both may have a dampening effect on home prices.
Since residential housing indices trail the current market by about 4-5 months from “meeting of the minds” to actual reporting of the index (contract date => closing date => recording date => index reporting date) the people that work with this data already have a fairly strong impression of where the index will be next year and even the subsequent month.
If we can’t take the indices at face value when they show a decline, then perhaps the same ought to be true when the indices go positive? The take away here is there is no single barometer of the state of housing.
Here’s the 20-city index breakdown.
As I like to say: “The trend is your friend until it ends.”
Apparently Google search patterns for real estate terms is highly seasonal (hat tip Big Picture) – while it doesn’t track exactly with sales activity or prices, it clearly shows that the race is on at the beginning of the year no matter how week the market is and doesn’t dissipate until right after July 4th. The level of search activity changes but the seasonal patterns are consistent.
Of course, web traffic for WeightWatchers.com is also seasonal. After a barrage of holiday eating, there is nothing like a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Like housing, the race to lose weight begins in January of each year.
What’s curious though, is that WeightWatcher traffic has been rising year over year (I only have two years of info) while the housing market has been falling year over year.
Conclusion? Stress over housing market/economy leads to the need for more dieting.
Tags: Barry Ritholtz
I had the pleasure of speaking with Barry Ritholtz of Fusion IQ and The Big Picture weblog. He’s a wealth of information and never pulls any punches in his characterizations of the current economic mess we find ourselves in. Listening to Barry speak about this whole situation and reading his book is much pretty much required.
The Big Picture is the leading financial weblog with must-read content and it boasts a huge following (self-included).
Barry recently released a terrific book: Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy. I highly recommend it.