Are House Prices Going Up?

I have the unfortunate experience of dealing with realtors on a somewhat regular basis. Now I have nothing against the profession, but I do have something against ignorance. I have talked to numerous realtors nearly every month for the last 8 or so years, from before the bubble, during and now during the collapse. The landscape has changed vastly, but their message remains the same “things are about to turn around” “houses are starting to pick back up” If I had a dollar for everytime I’ve heard a realtor say this I could buy an ounce of gold.

At the very best nearly every realtor I have met is so woefully ignorant of economics that they don’t even understand what drives their business. I don’t expect them to be market gurus, but at least understand the reality of your business.

At worse realtors are just rampant liars who try to prop up home prices with their words, after all you make a much bigger commision on a $250,000 house than a $100,000 house.

Everytime I hear the words “things are about to turn around” I ask the simple question…. Why?

Why would it turn around? Everything happens for a reason, prices went to the moon for a reason (government intervention in the markets, reckless Fed monetary policy, MBS and CDS, regulators in bed with corporations, greedy banks etc etc.) and now they are returning to earth for a reason.

So why would house prices go up? Do people have better job security today? No. Do people make more money today? No. Are people in less debt today? No. Is unemployment low? No. Is the cost of living going down? Hell no.

The list goes on forever, there is NO reason why house prices would go up in value (relative to other commodities) So don’t be fooled into thinking that they will. Here is a list of 29 facts about the housing market which further cements my point.

 SOURCE

However, to give us all some numbers to think about, the following are 29 absolutely crazy statistics about the housing crisis that show just how nightmarish the U.S. housing market is right now….

#1 During the first three months of this year, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.

#2 Home prices just keep falling month after month.  The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index has fallen for seven months in a row.

#3 U.S. home prices have now declined 32% from the peak of the housing bubble.

#4 In Phoenix, Arizona home prices are now down 56% from the peak of the housing bubble.

#5 Home prices in Las Vegas, Nevada are now down 58% from the peak of the housing bubble.

#6 Nearly 70 percent of all Las Vegas mortgages are now underwater.

#7 Due to the housing crisis, there are now more than 167,000 vacant homes in the state of Nevada.

#8 It is estimated that 25% of all mortgages in Miami-Dade County are “in serious distress and headed for either foreclosure or short sale“.

#9 According to a recent census report, 13% of all homes in the United States are sitting empty.

#10 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant.  That number is 63 percent larger than it was just ten years ago.

#11 In the city of Detroit alone, there are more than 33,000 abandoned homes.

#12 The average home in the city of Merced, California has declined in value by 63 percent over the past four years.

#13 U.S. home values have fallen an astounding 6.3 trillion dollars since the housing crisis first began.

#14 California had more foreclosure filings that any other U.S. state during 2010.  The 546,669 total foreclosure filings during the year means that over 4 percent of all the housing units in the state of California received a foreclosure filing at some point during 2010.

#15 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

#16 Approximately 26 percent of all renters in the United States spend more than half their pre-tax income on rent.

#17 It is estimated that 49 percent of all American renters are paying out more in rent than they can afford.

#18 In 1996, 89 percent of Americans believed that it was better to own a home than to rent one.  Today that number has fallen to 63 percent.

#19 72 percent of the major metropolitan areas in the United States had more foreclosures in 2010 than they did in 2009.

#20 Two years ago, the average U.S. homeowner that was being foreclosed upon had not made a mortgage payment in 11 months.  Today, the average U.S. homeowner that is being foreclosed upon has not made a mortgage payment in 17 months.

#21 In September 2008, 33 percent of Americans knew someone who had been foreclosed upon or who was facing the threat of foreclosure.  Today that number has risen to 48 percent.

#22 During the month of January, it was estimated that there were 1.8 million distressed homes in the United States that had yet to be listed for sale.  Many analysts believe that this “shadow inventory” will extend the housing crisis for several more years.

#23 In February, U.S. housing starts experienced their largest decline in 27 years.

#24 Now home sales in the United States are now down 80% from the peak in July 2005.

#25 Bank repossessions and short sales now make up approximately 30 percent of all home sales in the United States.

#26 As of the end of 2010, new home sales in the United States had declined for five straight years, and they are expected to be lower once again in 2011.

#27 31 percent of the homeowners that responded to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey indicated that they are “underwater” on their mortgages.

#28 Deutsche Bank is projecting that 48 percent of all U.S. mortgages could have negative equity by the end of 2011.

#29 According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, at least 8 million Americans are currently at least one month behind on their mortgage payments.

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