But first, a musical interlude:
From the NYT:
MUCH hope has been pinned on the recovery in home prices that began about a year ago. A long-lasting housing recovery might provide a balm to households, mortgage lenders and the entire United States economy. But will the recovery be sustained?
Alas, the evidence is equivocal at best.
The most obvious reason for hope is that, unlike stock prices, home prices tend to show a great deal of momentum. Correcting for seasonal effects, home prices as measured by the S.&P./Case-Shiller 10-City Home Price Index increased each month from June 1995 to April 2006, then decreased almost every month to May 2009. Since then, they have risen through January, the latest month for which data is available.
So, because home prices have been climbing of late, isn’t it plausible that they’ll keep doing so?
If only it were that simple.
Home price booms and busts do end, sometimes quite suddenly, as was the case for the boom of 1995 to 2006 and the bust of 2006 to 2009. Today, we need to worry about strong headwinds, as the government begins to withdraw its support of a still-troubled lending industry and as foreclosures are dumping millions of homes onto the market.
THE question now is whether a strong case has been built for a new bull market since the home-price turning point in May 2009. Though there is no way to be precise, I don’t believe it has.
Since that turning point, most public discourse on housing has not been about a new long-term view of the market. Instead, it focused initially on whether the recession was over and on the extraordinary measures the government was taking to support the housing market.
Now we’re shifting into a new phase. The recession is generally viewed as being over, and those extraordinary measures are being lifted.
Momentum may be on the forecasts’ side. But until there is evidence that the fundamental thinking about housing has shifted in an optimistic direction, we cannot trust that momentum to continue.