Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So Where Are We In The Housing Bubble?

So I'm reading Diana Olick's blog on CNBC about the housing bubble and she's voicing her frustration with the repeated "on camera" question: Have we hit bottom yet?

To which she replies, it depends on the market (and since I'm in the thick of it here just north of Stockton, CA, I have to agree) with most notibly California and a majority of the West Coast having seen the largest percentage drop around the country over the last month. Great, nothing I haven't heard.. honest reporting.. time to move on.. BUT wait, she puts a link to the Zillow blog at the bottom of the page for some regional stats.

Now if you click on the image, it will take you to the Zillow "Zindex" site that has the interactive data for 66 MSA's from around the country. Each vertical bar represents a city's year over year housing appreciation (red) or depreciation (blue) - the green bar represents the "Zindex" for the full MSA in that market. Interesting visual format.

You can slide the mouse over each bar in the MSA to get a closer look at each community's housing price change year over year. What is startling confirms what my neighbors and friends are saying is happening in our market (Stockton/Sacramento/Central Valley) and the "grand exitos" from Northern California into Oregon and Washington over the past year. Each one of these markets is red on the site and most are up substantially. They did not include the Boise, ID market, but my hunch is that it would trend higher as well. From the visual data, it is easy to see where we are at regionally and nationally.

Two other interesting credit market notes in the news today:

  1. Noting that the UK is not faring much better with the credit crunch, it was reported that BarclayCard has reduced its spending limits on 500k credit card holders today. Effectively they have closed off any credit that marginal cardholders might need if they show difficulty handling existing levels of personal debt. I'm sure that this is one trend that might make it's way to the States, just in time for Holiday shopping.
  2. Eric Englund (credit professional for the past 23 years) provides an editorial in Financial Sense on the credit "crisis" and how we got to this point (very interesting read). But, I was most interested in the statistics of just how high domestic household debt has risen in twenty years:
Regrettably, when the Federal Reserve targeted housing to reflate the U.S. economy with enormous doses of money and credit, America’s creeping credit socialism was given fertile ground to grow into a monstrous housing bubble. Mortgage lenders irresponsibly said "yes" to just about any borrower while Alan Greenspan cheered them on. It is no wonder why I have seen the most debt-laden, maladjusted personal financial statements in my entire career. In fact, the Federal Reserve’s data support my observations as domestic household debt has increased from approximately $2.5 trillion in 1986, to $7.7 trillion in 2001, to $12.9 trillion in 2006 (with 76% of the 2006 figure being mortgage debt). The toxic combination of mind-numbing inflation and credit socialism has crippled household finances from coast to coast. Therefore, do not believe the talking heads who claim that the mortgage mess is limited to the subprime stratum. As the housing bubble continues to implode, the financial fallout will result in nothing short of an international economic disaster. The Federal Reserve’s September 18, 2007 one-half percent cut in the fed funds rate will not do anything to head off America’s looming household-insolvency crisis.

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