With pent-up housing demand headed for exhaustion, if not well past exhaustion already thanks to $10,000 tax credits for new buyers, the housing recovery is about to reverse.
Please consider Reversal of Fortune.
One in five housing markets entered a second leg of home price declines in late 2009, after showing price increases for nearly half of last year, according to a report released Wednesday by Zillow.com, a real-estate Web site.
In 29 of the 143 markets tracked by the site — including Boston, Atlanta and San Diego — prices flattened or began to decrease again in the second part of last year, after five or more months of consecutive monthly increases, according to the site’s fourth quarter real-estate market report.
Home prices in another 29 markets, including Los Angeles and New York, increased each month throughout the fourth quarter. But the rate of increase slowed from November to December in 21 markets, according to the data.
Nationwide, home values fell 5% in the fourth quarter compared with the fourth quarter a year earlier. Values fell 0.5% from the third quarter of 2009.
“While we have seen strong stabilization in home values during 2009, there are clear signs that they will turn more negative in the near-term,” said Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, in a news release.
“What we saw in mid-2009 was a brief respite from a larger market correction that has not yet run its course,” he said.
Still, Humphries said markets that see a “double dip” in values before reaching a bottom won’t see a return “to the magnitude of depreciation seen earlier.” Instead, the drop will look like a “modest aftershock” of the initial drop in prices. In this scenario, a “double dip” is defined as two periods of sustained declines separated by a brief stabilization or recovery, according to the release.
It’s important not to make too much of stabilization. If you throw enough money at something, prices are bound to stabilize, at least for a while. However, eventually the pool of pent-up demand is exhausted, much like the pool of original fools was exhausted.
The shadow supply of homes is through the roof, rental prices are dropping, and there is no real sign of jobs. Moreover, the Fed is supposed to end its agency buying purchases soon.
I doubt they do, at least for long. But they should. Efforts to prop up the housing market are misguided. Eventually housing will find a bottom, but all the Fed gets in the meantime is prolonging the agony while loading up its balance sheet with garbage, praying for miracles.
No miracles are coming.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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