Housing market

Analysis of the (primarily) San Diego housing market.

May Foreclosure Activity

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 18, 2007 - 7:58am

Whether one looks at Notices of Default or Notices of Trustee Sale, San Diego's foreclosure rate is now as bad as or worse than it was during most of the 1990s housing bust:

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Chamberlin Supplemental

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 12, 2007 - 8:40am

As a supplement to the recent article about the SDDT's executive editor, please enjoy this selection of George Chamberlin quotes (which I collected for a while last year). I recall some even funnier and more damning quotes from before and shortly after the housing market peaked, but unfortunately I didn't think to start collecting them at the time. Nonetheless, there are still some gems to be found below.

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May Housing Market Data

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 7, 2007 - 2:18pm

It's time for the monthly housing data roundup...


To hear the median-based price indicators tell it, condo prices have stabilized and single-family prices are on a tear:

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Latest Case-Shiller Numbers

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 1, 2007 - 9:20am

Hi everyone -- I'm back from my trip and ready to start nerding out again. While I was out, S&P released the Case-Shiller figures for March, which indicated that despite the strength in the median price, home pricing power is still declining (or at least was declining as of March).

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April Housing Data

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 7, 2007 - 1:35pm


The median price per square foot, aka the size-adjusted median, was up in April for both property types, though still down from a year ago and from the November 2005 peak:

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Guest Commentary: Ramsey on Foreclosure Auctions and More

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 2, 2007 - 9:14am

Retired REO broker Ramsey Su has sent out another set of observations on the housing market, this time covering three topics: the "subprime" spillover, the imbalance between housing supply and demand, and an upcoming huge foreclosure auction here in San Diego.

Ramsey's prior commentary can be found here and here.

Subprime Spillover, Supply and Demand, and Foreclosure Auctions

(Ramsey's disclaimer: this email is unedited; take it for whatever it’s worth)

“Subprime” Spillover

Definition – there is little doubt now that the term “subprime” has been misunderstood and misused. "Non-traditional" is a much better term. High debt-to-income (DTI) ratios, 100% combined loan to value (CLTV) ratios and loans with multiple layers of risk are far more accurate descriptions of the problems that haunted the market of late. I am going to use “non-traditional” in lieu of what is generally labeled “subprime”. Similarly, labeling the “prime” loans as “traditional” loans would provide a much better understanding of the spillover effect.

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Lereah Out

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 30, 2007 - 10:20am

National Associates of Realtors economist David Lereah, who was an embarrassment to decent Realtors everywhere, is leaving the NAR. I can only assume that the NAR belatedly realized that their strategy of self-serving disinformation was not serving their long-term interests, and that they threw that strategy's poster boy to the wolves. Of course, I have no proof at all of this assumption -- perhaps Lereah got sick of being a national punchline and left voluntarily.

Either way, it would be nice if this development heralded a move towards more ethical and forthright behavior on the part of the NAR. I'm not getting my hopes up.

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March Sales per NOD/NOT

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 17, 2007 - 5:01pm

Here's a quick update on sales vs. NODs and NOTs (which serve as very rough proxies for distressed supply) for March. As of last year, we were still coming off the lows for the NOT series, so the year-over-year difference there is quite striking. Neither series changed much from last month.

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March Defaults and Foreclosure Sales

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 12, 2007 - 10:20am

Here's a quick graph of March NODs and NOTs. I won't be able to put this into proper historical context until I get March labor force info and DataQuick sales volume. However, I wanted to put up a graph of the past year's data to demonstrate the shocking conclusion that foreclosures are still on the rise.

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March Housing Data

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 10, 2007 - 11:04am

In case you haven't put this together from the abysmal lack of new content, I have been fairly pressed for time. So I'm going to present this month's data with a minimum of editorializing.


The size-adjusted median price, aka the median price per square-foot, was mixed for March. The mpsf (can I use that acronym, please? it will save me a lot of typing...) was down .5% for condos but up 1.4% for detached homes. Both were of course still down on a year-over-year basis...

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February Inventory Detail

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 14, 2007 - 10:23pm

In the latest housing report, I neglected to break out the months of inventory data for condos and detached homes. Without further ado:

Interestingly, while the condo supply is still below the glut-tastic levels of late 2006, the single family home supply is as high as it was at any time last year.

Supply and demand figures are squirrelly at this time of year due to holiday disruptions. Next month will give us a better read.

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Guest Commentary: Ramsey on Default and Foreclosure Volume

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 13, 2007 - 9:16am

The prior guest piece by Ramsey (San Diego foreclosure guru and orderer of Chinese restaurant meats with questionable provenance) was a big hit, and Ramsey has kindly agreed to let me publish more of his thoughts...


For those who have been receiving my weekly SD foreclosure updates, you know I have been somewhat puzzled by the week to week bumpiness.

I finally figured out a number of factors that are most like responsible for what I consider erratic foreclosure data.

Be forewarned that this email is almost entirely MY OPINION or hearsay with no data to substantiate my theories.

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February Housing Data

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 9, 2007 - 9:52am

Administrative note: The new "Finance and Investing" section to your upper right will feature articles from my financial advisory firm's website. Wait a minute, is this marketing? Well, maybe just a little... but the articles cover topics that are oft discussed in the forums and that could be of interest to many an Econo-Almanac reader.

OK, back to your regularly scheduled programming...


Nothing exciting happened in the pricing department. The size-adjusted median price was pretty much flat for the month, and was down 6.4% for both single family homes and condos since February 2006.

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The San Diego Housing Bubble

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 21, 2007 - 9:47pm

By 2001, San Diego had enjoyed a nice housing boom. Since bottoming out in 1996 after a nasty housing downturn, the price of the typical single family home had risen by 74 percent. As of 2001, adjusted for inflation, San Diego homes were more expensive than they'd ever been (at least since the 1970s, which is as far back as the available data goes).

At this point, one might have expected home price growth to slow down or even flatten out. But the show was only getting started. The typical home, already somewhat richly valued, would go on to nearly double in price in just a few years.

Interestingly, this price explosion occurred at a time when rents were growing fairly modestly. This is somewhat strange because the factors that typically drive home prices, such as incomes, employment, and population growth, also affect rents. Yet after 2001, while prices of already richly-valued homes increased 98 percent and the monthly payments on those homes rose 88 percent, rents only increased 31 percent.

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Guest Commentary: Ramsey on Foreclosure Impact

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 14, 2007 - 9:53am

My pal Ramsey is a retired real estate broker and grizzled 1990s housing bust veteran. When he's not dragging me to Chinese restaurants on the Department of Health watchlist, he spends his time thinking about how this particular real estate cycle is going to play out, placing a special emphasis on new age lending practices. A couple weeks back Ramsey sent me an excellent (and very long) treatise on foreclosures, which I reproduce in its entirety below.

Foreclosures, Real Estate Financing, and Their Impact to the Real Estate Market

Starting from 2002, every participant in the broad real estate arena has been trained to ignore financing as an integral part of all real estate transactions.  It is so easy that it seems anyone who wants a loan can get a loan.  No down payment?  No credit?  No problem.

So where do we go from here?  As most of you know, since 1982, my specialty in real estate was foreclosures.  I have never seen a cycle like this before so I have no historical comparison to draw from.  All I can offer is some thoughts and points to ponder over:

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