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Posts Tagged ‘Lawrence Yun’

[Analysis Paralysis] Calling The Bottom Of Calling The Bottom Of The Real Estate Market

August 19, 2008 | 3:48 pm | |

One of the real estate conversations that everyone seems to have involves calling a bottom. Why are we so obsessed with calling a bottom?

If you’re right, you can claim it and tout it on your resume for the rest of your career.

I’ve certainly been asked the “bottom” question like a gazillion times. We should learn from the prior conversation, which was “calling the top.” In the prior scenario economists and pundits got lots of air time doing this. Call the top for several years and eventually you’ll be right. Consistency is a virtue.

Bob Toll said:

“People are looking for a reason to get off the fence. The most asked question in America today other than who Obama’s Vice President is going to be is probably when is the bottom? And if you even smell as though you are in real estate, people ask you that question all day long.”

Let’s have that real estate conversation now:

Q: When is the housing market going to bottom?
A: I don’t know.

One thing I do know, it is not going to be this year. And so what?

What does “calling a bottom” do for anyone, anyway? …especially if it’s only a gut feeling. Yun of NAR has been calling for a bottom more times than I care to recite and even his most loyal fans are getting numb.

The idea that we want to have finality with the problems of the housing market is certainly understandable. When someone is stepping on your foot, you’d like to get an idea when they’ll get off of it.

We simply need to know. Or as said in the movie “Dirty Harry” by a criminal who was staring down the barrel of a 44 magnum (the most powerful handgun in the world) …”I gots to know.”

“V” versus “L” shaped bottom
My biggest issue with the answer to this question is that it is misleading. To most consumers, the “bottom” means the end of housing market stress and it marks the point where things will get better. Trough to peak.

Have you looked at the credit situation lately? The health of the GSEs?

Calling a “bottom” today likely means the point where things stop getting worse. And a flat bottom could stick around for a number of years. Think about it. What constructive actions to restore faith in the credit/investor/financial markets which provide liquidity for mortgages have occurred since last summer?

Steep and Deep, Short and Shallow
Another issue that is clearly perverse and often baffling in the answer to the “bottom” question concerns the vastly different performance characteristics of each market. There is no national housing market.

Some markets will see the housing market deterioration as steep and deep, others will be short and shallow, and the remainder in between. While all markets are connected by credit and mortgage quality and quantity, local conditions rule. I think the upturn in Michigan, with it’s auto industry woes, is much farther away than south Florida, the current poster child for rampant speculation and five year inventories of the past several years.

I’m looking forward to getting to the bottom of the bottom discussion. Please.

UPDATE: The Economist is calling it: Behind the housing gloom is an improving backdrop


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[In The Media] 4Realz Roundtable Government Solutions To The Housing Situation

July 17, 2008 | 11:58 pm | Public |

Dustin Luther scores a coup, getting the Lawrence Yun, controversial NAR Chief Economist, to be the guest on his 4Realz podcast conference call along with moi, Rhonda Porter and Jillayne Schlicke .

What’s just as interesting as the guest speakers is the chat room dialog during the discussions. It prompts Dustin’s questions and allows “murmuring” during each answer.

I got the feeling that everyone wanted to pounce on Larry but never did. Do I call him Larry? Dr. Yun? Mr. Yun? Larry was unfettered.

4realz Roundtable: Effect of FDIC/Treasury Actions on Home Buyers and Real Estate Industry

Of course I was a few minutes late to the call as is my tradition (sorry Dustin!).

Check out the discussion

Thanks again Dustin – see you in San Fran!


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[Smoking Gun Crack] Signs Of Housing Recovery

July 14, 2008 | 10:15 pm | |

In a lapse of judgement, poor writing or an irrational need to be contrarian, the normally solid publication Barrons (I subscribe) drops the ball on their cover story:

Bottom’s Up: This Real-Estate Rout May Be Short-Lived

If IndyMac, Fannie and Freddie didn’t steal the headlines over the weekend, I wonder if this article would ever made it to print.

The article suggests housing is moving toward recovery based on a review of recent data:

  1. NAR exisitng homes have a 10.8 month supply in May versus a 11.2 month supply in April (ahem: Seasonality occurs in rising and falling market. Home sales rise in the spring.)

  2. Case Shiller showed prices rose in 8 of 20 housing markets in April, and the pace of decline is slowing in many of the cities surveyed. (see no. 1)

  3. Treasury Secretary Paulson recently said: “”we are well into the adjustment process.” (This is a political move to allay investors – other than that, what does this statement actually mean?)

  4. David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee indicated the media was only interested in the “…bad year-over-year number.” (blame the media observation – see no. 1.)

  5. Pending Congressional bailout. FHA will reposition $300M in subprime mortgages. (For perspective, Fannie and Freddie have 5 trillion in outstanding mortgages, how does this save the market? It’s a drop in the bucket).

  6. Fannie and Freddie may be taken over by the government is a good thing. (no it’s not)

  7. A million unit drop in housing starts has signified the end of the last 3 housing corrections. (none of those period saw anything close to the speculation and poor lending practices seen the recent boom – no lessons learned by history here).

  8. Affordability (via price/income) has improved with price declines. (The rationalization for increased affordability is pretty silly since underwriting standards are much tighter. In other words, if your credit score and salary didn’t change from last year, and your home dropped in value, your buying power is probably much lower. In other words, affordability did not increase despite the mechanical calculations to the contrary).

  9. NAR reports 2% increase in co-op. condo and townhouses from April to May. (See no. 1)

  10. NAR economist Lawrence Yun is actually relied on in this article. (He called the credit crunch temporary last August and the housing market would return to normal in the fall.)

  11. Mortgage market weakness is front end loaded with foreclosures and defaults. (In theory the bad is behind us – for the life of me, I can’t understand the rationale. How does this mean housing is poised for a turn if the scope of the credit crunch is unprecedented?)

Good grief.


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[NAR Forecast] You Can’t Make This Up

May 20, 2008 | 12:01 am | |

For as hard as the typical Realtor works to make a living, that goodwill is quickly undone when looking at the forecasts that come out of Lawrence Yun’s office at NAR. Disbelief has been a recurring theme in the blogosphere since LY took over the reigns from DL.

Nearly once a week, I am hammered with some sort of press release spin that is, for lack of a better word, gross.

Now that the subprime market has dried up, and loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration and those purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are making a comeback, the housing markets will strengthen and prices are likely to begin a steady uptick in the coming months, Yun said.

Based on what?

“There are many reasons for people to get into the housing market today, and very few reasons not to. With the plentiful supply of homes for sale at affordable prices, interest rates approaching 40-year lows, and the strong track record of housing as a good long-term investment, conditions are ripe for buyers,” he added. “Those are the facts, plain and simple.”

Those aren’t the facts, plain and simple. It’s so simplistic a statement, it’s sad, actually. The problem remains with credit and the large drop in purchasing power that created artificially high demand. Bloated inventory levels are still a significant factor.

One could reasonably argue that Yun is committing consumer fraud by trying to entice people to buy into a market that is poised to fall further. I suppose he thinks his ridiculous predictions will restore confidence in the real estate market. If in fact his role is to spread optimism, the NAR should be legally required to post an appropriate disclaimer stating their real purpose.

Please watch this video – is it just me or is this just plain gross? What is the NAR thinking? They desperately need to reconsider this approach to public relations. The consumer needs to be given credit for having intelligence.

It’s embarrassing. Really.

You Can’t Make This Up


PlayPlay

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[Move-ing Violation] After Sunny Skies, Chicken Little Sees His Shadow

May 8, 2008 | 12:01 am | |

It’s bad enough that the current NAR chief economist has made himself irrelevant by continues to say some crazy things about the housing market:

Two things homebuyers shouldn’t have to worry about is a recession or long-term credit crunch.

Yun, who admits that he has to balance empirical data with a role of advocacy for the housing market, said that while the beginning of 2008 has been weak so far, the second half of the year should see an uptick that could lead to home value growth of more than 20 percent in the next five years. “I think there is enough momentum to bring the buyers back into the market,” Yun said.

His adventures are well chronicled in Lawrence Yun Watch which followed the widely read David Lereah Watch who was his predecessor.

Now we are seeing the former cheerleader for NAR, David Lereah espousing negative views on housing.

David Lereah was the poster boy for all that was wrong with the housing boom. He wasn’t that subtle about spin, or perhaps an organization like his didn’t have the blogosphere to contend with before he came on the scene.

David Lereah moved on to Move and when they experienced problems, moved on to his startup Reecon Advisors, which provides advice to Wall Street. Interesting. Didn’t Wall Street read the newspapers during the housing boom? What advice are they looking for?

I guess the only point to this post is that I find it amazing that someone, who is so smart and articulate, take the dubious path that he took, and still be able to sell books and be paid for advice, which contrasts what he doled out for years with NAR and apparently trained his successor well.

I have so much to learn.


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NAR Spin Cycle Set To Permanent Press

April 23, 2008 | 1:22 pm |

On Matrix I have long been critical of the NAR’s efforts to spin the market as positive no matter what is happening (there is an alternative to negative spin – it’s called neutral). NAR is a repository of great information so I am not sure what they are afraid of. They don’t make the market. This tactic really represents old school thinking.

I have wanted to visually show how this was done, but alas it never got, well…done. I don’t grab other posts but this time I need to make an exception since it was so brilliantly done (hat tip to reader RentinginNJ, a fan of NJ RE Report via Big Picture). Both Jim Bednar’s New Jersey RE Report and Barry Ritholtz’s The Big Picture are heavily trafficked go to blogs for real estate info.

View original post on New Jersey RE Report

Although Barry makes an interesting point, I’d have to say I see no real change in NAR’s orientation in delivery of information to the press other than the latest release. One slight negative release doesn’t show a trend (3 data points to make a trent I am told). In fact, the press release titles for the prior two months had nothing to do with the data in their reports.

Each press release statement pertains to the corresponding number in the above chart.

  1. “There’s no question there is a strong demand for housing from a growing population.” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  2. “For the foreseeable future, the demand for homes will continue to outstrip supply” -Al Mansell, NAR President

  3. “We’ve been expecting sales to remain at historically high levels, but this performance underscores the value of housing as an investment and the importance of homeownership in fulfilling the American dream.” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  4. “We are returning to more balanced markets between home buyers and sellers… We feel confident that housing is landing softly as rates continue to rise.” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  5. “This is part of the market adjustment we’ve been discussing, with a soft landing in sight for the housing sector. The level of home sales activity is now at a sustainable level. Overall fundamentals remain solid…” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  6. “Higher interest rates are slowing home sales, but we see this as another sign of a soft landing for the housing sector which remains at historically high levels.” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist “After five years of booming sales, we are now experiencing normal market conditions across most of the country… most owners can expect steadier gains in home values for the foreseeable future.” -Thomas M. Stevens, NAR President

  7. “Over the last three months home sales have held in a narrow range, easing to a level that is near our annual projection, which tells us the market is stabilizing” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  8. “Now sellers in many areas of the country are pricing to reflect current market realities. As a result, there could be some lift to home sales, but it’ll likely take some months for price appreciation to rise.” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  9. Existing-home sales stabilized at a sustainable pace in August -NAR

  10. “…the worst is behind us as far as a market correction — this is likely the trough for sales. When consumers recognize that home sales are stabilizing, we’ll see the buyers who’ve been on the sidelines get back into the market” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  11. “It looks like we’re moving beyond the low for the housing cycle last fall, and buyers are responding to historically low interest rates and competitive pricing by home sellers. In addition, a tightening inventory of homes on the market is supporting prices.” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  12. “Fundamentals have improved in the housing market and buyers see a window now with historically-low mortgage interest rates and competitive pricing by sellers,” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  13. “We also may be seeing some losses as a result of the subprime fallout. However, this is masking improved fundamentals in the housing market, with lower mortgage interest rates and motivated sellers.” -David Lereah, NAR Chief Economist

  14. “Buyers who’ve been on the sidelines may want to take a closer look at current conditions in their area – if they wait for sales to rise, their choices and negotiating position won’t be as good as they are now.” -Pat V. Combs, NAR President

  15. “The rise in sales and prices in the Northeast region on a fairly consistent basis in recent months is promising because this was the first region that underwent sales and price weakness after the boom. Now, it appears that it will be the first region to climb back, indicating that other regions could follow a similar path.” -Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist

  16. “The unusual disruptions in the mortgage market, including a significant rise in jumbo loan rates, resulted in a fairly high number of postponed or cancelled sales…Once we get through these disruptions, we’ll get a better sense of where the actual market is in late fall as conditions begin to normalize,” -Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist

  17. “Existing-Home Sales Rise in November, Market Likely Stabilizing” -NAR

  18. “Home sales remain weak despite improved affordability conditions in many parts of the country, but we could get a quick boost to the market if loan limits are raised in combination with the bold cut in the Fed funds rate,” -Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist

  19. Existing-Home Sales to Stablize Before Upturn in Second Half of 2008 -NAR


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[Rank Forecasts] Rankled By Rankings, Prognostication At Its Finest

March 24, 2008 | 12:41 pm | |

I linked to a story about forecasters a few days ago but it’s still got me confused.

These days, housing prognostication is big business (I do a little prognosticatin’ myself). There are a few people that I watch closely and in fact, several that I fawn (is that a word?) over. But I was taken aback by the USAToday/Atlanta Fed’s rankings of the most accurate forecasters out of a pool of often quoted economists.

It was done anonomously so the analysts would not be swayed by personalities they were covering:

Atlanta Fed economist Tao Zha and Fed programmer Eric Wang analyzed the quarterly predictions to determine the most accurate forecasters. Zha and economists Robert Eisenbeis and Dan Waggoner had previously developed the methodology. Rather than assessing the accuracy of each forecast variable separately, as is commonly done, the economists used statistical methods to assess the joint accuracy of the predictions. The Atlanta Fed economists did not know the identities of those they were evaluating.

David Berson, formerly of Fannie Mae and now of PMI, has long been one of my favorites, as well as Mark Zandi of Economy.com. Nariman Behravesh of Global Insight and Ethan Harris of Lehman are on the list and I enjoy reading their work. The remainder on the list I am not familiar with.

However, several prominent economists were not ranked, and I am not sure what that implies:

David Rosenberg of Merrill Lynch, a bear, pumps out a lot of interesting work and I enjoy hearing him speak often on Bloomberg.

Robert Shiller, perhaps the most widely quoted economist out there, was not on the list. He is the author of a best selling book and co-creator of the Case Shiller Index.

Nouriel Roubini, an often quoted economist for bloggers and the media, is perhaps the most negative forecaster out there, yet he is a terrific public speaker (just make sure you are euphoric before you hear him speak).

What caught my attention was the inclusion of Lawrence Yun of NAR as the 5th most accurate forecaster. I found that shocking, actually. I am sure he is a nice person and works very hard, but he has made some of the most amazing comments about the state of the housing market each month that have nothing to do with the data that is released. Perhaps that’s the problem. It’s not the data (that was analyzed) it’s the delivery of the message.

Here’s an example.

Today, NAR’s Existing Home Sales stats were released:

Sales of existing homes increased in February and remain within a fairly stable range, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 2.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (1) of 5.03 million units in February from a pace of 4.89 million in January, but remain 23.8 percent below the 6.60 million-unit level in February 2007. The sales pace has been in a fairly narrow range since last September.

Here are NAR’s hard numbers.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the gain is encouraging. “We’re not expecting a notable gain in existing-home sales until the second half of this year, but the improvement is another sign that the market is stabilizing,” he said.

How can you issue a press releasing relying on the change between January to February to be a sign that the market is improving?

Sales are generally slowest in January. The change in sales from the prior February was down 23.8% and prices over the same period are down 8.2% yet the headline says the market is stabilizing?

Please tell me what the basis is for that headline in the facts that were presented or any external changes in the mortgage/credit markets and the economy? Am I missing something here?


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Good News! Housing Problems Are Behind Us [Spin Is In Front]

January 19, 2008 | 1:52 am |

At least Larry Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, isn’t using the word “Temporary” in his monthly pronouncement that included the idea that subprime isn’t really that big of a deal.

This month’s series of helpful advice for all of us to savor:

There’s too much focus on the national figures,” Yun said. “National figures can dampen consumer confidence.”

  • NAR posts national housing stats on a series of metrics every month.

“The subprime mess is a Wall Street mess,” Yun said. “They made a huge gamble, and they lost. Subprime is a past event that’s unrelated to homebuying.

“Denver is one of the markets to watch,” Yun said. “Austin (Texas) already has seen a boom. Denver will be among the next markets to see a boom.”

  • Since this was a speech he gave in Denver, I can’t help but think its a fill in the blank speech. “_______________________ is one of the markets to watch”

But seriously, this misinformation to consumers has got to stop. I can’t believe this advice hard core spin is being sanctioned by the trade group. Again, missing a golden opportunity to connect with consumers.


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NAR’s Temporary Housing View

November 29, 2007 | 12:10 am | |

Not a month goes by that Larry doesn’t say housing is getting better and that mortgage problems are temporary.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expected the sluggish performance. “As noted last month, temporary mortgage problems were peaking back in August when many of the sales closed in October were being negotiated. We continue to see the biggest impact in high-cost markets that rely on jumbo loans,” he said. “Mortgage availability has improved as evidenced by much lower mortgage interest rates and a sharp jump in FHA endorsements for home purchases.

I was wondering what mortgage data Larry is referring to? I don’t believe its part of his research but is a primary basis of rationalization for glowing market conditions, despite the fact that inventory tracked by NAR is at its highest level since 1985 and has continued to rise despite temporary mortgage problems.

Here’s what I said about Mr. Yun’s choice of the word “temporary” last month. Hmmm… perhaps this should be a monthly ritual until he stops using the word. Even then, we can’t be assured it will be temporary.

I yearn for the day when NAR finds that perfect moment and decides to inform the public and the consumer what is happening in the housing market, rather than assume we are illiterate. I know many, many brokerage firms and agents that agree with this. PR driven quotes like this don’t move markets so what is there to be afraid of?

UPDATE: Here’s a related article referencing some of my feelings about this topic in a Business week piece: Northeast Home Prices Remain Strong: Unlike the rest of the U.S., the region has seen price increases for the past six months. But a bad bonus season could change that

UPDATE 2: Supply of homes on market at 22-year high: Existing-home sales pace falls to 4.97 million for October, off 1.2%


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The Problem With NAR Forecasting Is Not Temporary

October 25, 2007 | 9:51 pm | |

In the New York Times article today Reports Suggest Broader Losses From Mortgages indicates that employment levels will be impacted from the job losses associated with problems in the mortgage industry. So now we have, lower levels of mortgage production, lower levels of construction and lower levels of consumer spending.

I guess thats why federal funds futures are indicating a 70% probability that the Fed will cut rates at their next meeting by 25 basis points.

Since August, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors, has kept characterizing the mortgage and credit market problems as temporary. Every month, as the blogosphere continues lament the loss of his predecessor, David Lereah, Mr. Yun has been able to continue the tradition of reality distortion and he does not disappoint.

Temporary? Relative to what? Will mortgage problems continue on forever? Of course not. Merrill Lynch reported an $8B loss due to mortgage related problems today. National lenders are having difficulty selling paper to the secondary market investors. Will this problem go away in a few months? I don’t see how.

If we relied on Mr. Yun’s use of the word temporary and heeded his advice back in August and September, credit market issues would have long been resolved. For next month, here are some alternatives to the word temporary. I vote for fugacious.

I have long lamented how NAR has missed its golden opportunity to gain the trust of the consumer as being the authority on the housing market, despite the fact that they are a trade group. Rather than leveraging the wealth of information at their disposal, they provided comments like this:

“Mortgage problems were peaking back in August when many of the September closings were being negotiated, and that slowed sales notably in higher priced areas that rely more on jumbo loans,” he said. “The good news is that mortgage availability has markedly improved in recent weeks with interest rates on jumbo loans falling, and more people are applying for safer and conforming FHA mortgage products.

The quote attempts to parse out problems with the mortgage markets from the timing of contract and closing dates. Elements of the statement are correct, but out of context, and ultimately paint an inaccurate picture.

Speaking of disconnect, did you hear George Carlin’s comments on The View about the fires in southern California regarding people losing their homes?

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Market Fogger: Weather, Psychology, Moving In With Parents And Now Lack Of Mortgages

August 30, 2007 | 12:01 am |

On Monday NAR released their Existing Home Sales stats for July 2007 slipped only 0.2% from the same period last year.

Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, said the market is holding on despite temporary mortgage disruptions. “Home sales probably would be rising in the absence of the mortgage liquidity issues of the past two months,” he said. “Some buyers with contracts have been scrambling when loan commitments did not materialize at the last moment, while other potential buyers are simply waiting for the mortgage market to stabilize.

I believe this could fall under normative economic theory (just a wild guess…on my part). When the data doesn’t match what the author wants it say, the author says what the author wants to say anyway. Another word for this is known as “Fogging.”

Other examples…

June 2007 Release for Existing Home Sales – Psychological factors and people doubling up in their houses:

“I think psychological factors are currently the biggest drag on the housing market, in addition to a disruption from tighter credit for subprime borrowers,” he said. “Household formation has slowed dramatically since late 2006, implying that many people are doubling-up – they’re adding roommates or moving in with parents.”

April 2007 Release for Existing Home Sales – The weather is to blame:

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, expected the drop. “For the last couple months we’ve been expecting a weather ‘hit’ on home sales finalized in March, but looking at overall activity in the first quarter we see that existing home sales averaged 6.41 million — a figure that is moderately higher than the sales pace during the second half of 2006,” he said. “We also may be seeing some losses as a result of the subprime fallout. However, this is masking improved fundamentals in the housing market, with lower mortgage interest rates and motivated sellers.”

Ok, back to the August release…
The reason Yun gave as to why home sales prices didn’t rise in August… was due to the credit crunch. However, the July closings in this report didn’t include sales during or after the credit crunch began in mid-July because these sales went to contract in June or early July. In other words, the statement applied to conditions not evident in the report data.

Its an interesting argment but made subject to an error in time slicing. The comment would have made more sense next month. Why is this sort of thing said nearly every month? Its not fair to the consumer.


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Can We Reach A Freakin’ Quorum About Housing?

August 20, 2007 | 12:01 am | |

Besides having a lot of admiration for the never ending contrarian ideas of Stephen J. Dubner, a la Freakonomics, it provides a great excuse to use “Freakin'” in public and not get scolded or lose my temper.

He gathered 5 real estate veterans to get their take on the questions: Is it finally time to believe in the housing bubble? And how much should the average American care?

He solicited comments from:

Robert Shiller: author of Irrational Exuberance and one of my economics’ heroes, who seems to be more optomistic than his introductions before various interviews would seem to suggest:

It is not clear whether the boom has come to an end; there is still investor enthusiasm out there.

Lawrence Yun: the new chief economist for NAR, who has taken the torch from his predecessor by dissappointingly finding obscure positive elements to expound upon that conflict with each other.

All real estate is local, and there are many local variations…The national median price was 1.1% lower in the second quarter of 2007 than its comparable period the year before….If people want to call the 1% price decline a bubble collapse — well, everyone has an opinion

David Lereah: the former NAR chief economist who gave this job title a bad name. He missed the opportunity to make NAR a trusted resource during the housing boom and post-housing boom periods, re-inventing phrases like “housing expansion” and balloons. A number of my agent colleagues were embarrassed by the things that he said during his tenure.

Bubble is the wrong imagery for today’s housing markets. Bubbles inevitably “pop.” A more useful image for the housing markets is a balloon. Balloons expand and deflate.

Barbara Corcoran: the former head of one NYC’s largest brokerage firms that bears her name. She was a brilliant marketer who really needs to re-connect with the market today. I am thinking that what worked 10 years ago doesn’t work today because I doubt that people believe she is running around the country snapping up property like picking apples from trees. But then again, I don’t understand marketing.

I’m yahoo-ing, low-bidding, and snatching up deals wherever I can find them…I’m grabbing as many over-priced, over-stuffed, and over-rated homes as I can get my greedy little hands on.

Aviv Nevo: one of the authors of the controversial Madison FSBO article who raised a lot of eyebrows with the study for his sharp insight, but also its limited applicability to the national market (not his fault at all). BTW, have you been to Madison lately? and is Jocko’s Rocketship near the football stadium still there?

I don’t know if it is time to believe in a housing bubble, and, frankly, I am not sure the average American should care.

Amir Korangy: founder and publisher of The Real Deal, to whom I have a particular bias, being in their publication a number of times, but for good reason: its a go to resource that is growing fast and has seemingly bigger than a Manhattan White Pages (8 pages of Millers, last time I checked).

Real estate prices are a local phenomenon based on employment, industry, and other factors including climate, quality of education, cost of living, immigration, and crime. Therefore, if the concept of a national housing market is ultimately a false construct, there simply cannot be a national housing bubble.

So why am I rambling about all these commentators in one column by a really smart contrarian economist? Because it speaks volumes about the residential housing market and how we see (or don’t see) it. The commentary represents a world filled with mixed signals, spin (cherry picking), more spin, limited applicability, out in left field silliness and rational thought, which leaves us freakin’ hungry to read more.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t think there was a quorum on the state of housing here.

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