VoiceofSanDiego.org

Articles that I have written for VoiceofSanDiego.org, a local news publication that provides continuing coverage of San Diego housing and economic issues.

Low-Priced Home Whackage in February's Case-Shiller Index

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 26, 2011 - 6:44pm

Home price data that is more timely than the Case-Shiller index has suggested that San Diego prices, on the whole, may be undergoing a bit of a spring thaw.  So I don't make too much of the fact that February's Case-Shiller index (which is calculated based on sales that took place in December, January, and February) declined by 1.3 percent in aggregate.

It is interesting, however, that the low-priced tier of the index dropped as much as it did.  After weathering the recent fall/winter lull better than the other tiers, the low-priced homes were spanked for 2.7 percent in February.  The middle tier was down 1.4 percent and the high tier by .5 percent for the month.



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San Diego's Job Recovery Strengthens

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 16, 2011 - 10:28am
March was good to San Diego's job market, according to the Employment Development Department's latest estimates. 

San Diego employment was estimated to have risen by .8 percent for the month, which the following chart shows is actually fairly brisk for recent times:



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Across-the-Board Declines in January's Case-Shiller Index

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 7, 2011 - 10:10am
As always, the Case-Shiller index of home prices arrives with a fairly major lag... 



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Employment Improves in the New Year

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 28, 2011 - 1:36pm
Because the January and February job numbers were released so close together, I decided to just cover them both in one update.  I'm going to jump right in with the seasonally adjusted data, because unadjusted January employment is always very distorted due to temporary holiday jobs disappearing.

Total seasonally adjusted San Diego employment increased slightly in the two months since December, growing by 5,700 jobs or about .5 percent during that time.



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Buy a House Now? It Depends...

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 27, 2011 - 3:31pm
Last week I discussed housing valuations -- how expensive local homes are in comparison to their historical relationship with rents and incomes.  To sum up the conclusions, San Diego homes in aggregate are right in the middle of the valuation range that has prevailed for the past thirty-odd years.  However, due to super-low mortgage rates, monthly payments on San Diego homes are substantially below their typical historical levels.

This article will deal with whether it makes sense, financially speaking, to buy a home in a market characterized by middle-of-the-road prices alongside dirt-cheap monthly payments.
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Case Shiller Index Declines Slightly in December

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 23, 2011 - 7:55pm
I know I said my next piece would discuss the circumstances in which it makes sense to buy a house.  I need to stop promising that I'll discuss something in the "next" blog entry, because often a quicker and newsier topic intervenes.

In this case that would be the latest release of the Case-Shiller index, which takes place on the last Tuesday of each month.  (Yes, I really should have seen this coming before declaring what the next topic would be).



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Case-Shiller Flattened Out in November

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 1, 2011 - 6:50pm
Just a quick update on the November Case-Shiller numbers.  After the surprisingly abrupt decline in October, the aggregate index flattened out in November:



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Frail Job Market Ends 2010 On an Up Note

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 25, 2011 - 8:58pm
The San Diego job market went more or less nowhere in 2010.

This is clear from the chart below, which measures seasonally-adjusted employment over the past several years.  The year 2010 began on a positive note, first and foremost because the exceedingly rapid job losses that had characterized the prior two years finally came to a halt.  The stabilization of the job market was itself good news.  On top of that, local employment managed to grow -- albeit quite slowly -- for the first half of the year.  (The blip up and then back down in May was the result of temporary census hiring, but without that distortion employment increased through June).



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Home Prices Dropped Sharply in October

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 29, 2010 - 1:05pm
The October release of the Case-Shiller index showed that San Diego home prices declined by 1.5 percent for the month.  This is a steep drop by recent standards -- it's been fifteen months since we saw a monthly index change of more than 1.5 percent in either direction.

Here is how the index price tiers have fared since the early-2009 trough. 



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Job Market Sleepwalks Through November

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 21, 2010 - 3:53pm
San Diego County employment rose slightly between October and November, according to the Employment Development Department's estimates.  The bulk of that increase, however, was owed to seasonal retail hiring.

The effects of the holidays can be seen in the following two graphs.  The first does not adjust for seasonality, and shows an increase of 3,700 jobs:



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Employment Grows in One Sense, Shrinks in Another

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 23, 2010 - 7:31pm
The number of people employed in San Diego County increased half a percent between September and October, according to the Employment Development Department's latest estimates:



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Home Prices Still Tracking Months of Inventory

Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 17, 2010 - 6:41pm
Back in July I put up a chart showing that the number of months' worth of housing inventory was highly correlated to home price changes.  That same chart suggested that, in accordance with a longstanding rule of thumb, six months' of inventory seemed to mark the line between upward and downward pressure on home prices.

Below is an update of that chart...




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Case-Shiller Index Declines for First Time in Sixteen Months

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 26, 2010 - 5:31pm
As anticipated, the Case-Shiller index of San Diego home prices fell in August.



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Foreclosures May Be Just a Sideshow in Paperwork Scandal

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 16, 2010 - 9:29am
I'm a finance and economics nerd, not a legal nerd, so I'm trying to make heads or tails of the whole foreclosure signing mess just like everyone else.   Fortunately a friend sent along a Citigroup research piece, summarizing the views of a Georgetown law professor named Adam Levitin, that I found very enlightening.  Unfortunately, the piece is proprietary so I can't link to it.  But I will try to sum up some of the major points.

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September 2010 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 10, 2010 - 8:04pm
Now that I have a version of Excel that allows a greatly expanded color selection, I took the opportunity to update the graphs to match the site's muted theme.  (I'm using a loose definition of "now"... I figure there is wiggle room to the effect of a year or so... but let's not quibble about the details).

What's that you say?  You're interested in the actual data, and don't want to read a discussion about color schemes?

Well.  It takes all kinds, I guess.

Price-wise, the data didn't have anything too exciting to offer:



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