Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Home prices going up? Not until you show me the money.

Are home prices going up in a sustained manner anytime soon? No

A recent presentation by Australian Professor Steve Keen inspired me to search for a similar American data series. One exists and it does not predict any sort of sustained bounce in American home prices. (I am simplifying Mr. Keen's presentation as he looks primarily at the 2nd derivative of loan levels but the level of destruction in American mortgages outstanding is epic)

As Mr. Keen states, it is not people who buy homes, it's people with money who buy homes.  Just to show you the magnitude of the home devastation we are experiencing here's the entire home loan series:
For the entire data series, going back to the mid 50's we've never seen a year over year decline in the total value of home loans outstanding.  Yes, some of this decline is due to homes being foreclosed and the loans vaporizing as a result, but that also eliminates yet another person who cannot trade up from their current home to something larger as their equity and credit score head towards zero.

Until we see year over year growth in mortgages outstanding we will not see a sustained nationwide rise in home prices. We will of course see localized variation in this with some pockets of growth but nothings happening until You show me the money.

Disclosure: The author is short some housing related stocks.

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