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.

No Skin In the Game

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 16, 2006 - 7:28pm

This week's Voice of San Diego article was born when I dug into the DataQuick data to determine how many homebuyers were putting down how much. For all the ranting I do about EZ-credit, even I was kind of shocked: in 2005, 35% of San Diego homebuyers made no down payment.

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Credit Where Credit Isn't Due

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 9, 2006 - 9:42am

This week's Voice article, in addition to featuring a vaguely unsettling photograph, addresses the commonly-held belief that low interest rates should make homes more expensive.

The idea that an item's long-term price should be affected by the rate at which you can finance it on any given day is not really sound. This applies both to financial assets (if the brokerage lowers the rate on your margin account, your stocks did not just become permanently more expensive) and to consumer goods (in the minds of most, a lower credit card rate doesn't justify correspondingly higher grocery prices). So why do people accept that rates should affect the intrinsic value of housing, and only housing? Because logic doesn't apply during speculative bubbles.

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Lack of Affordability: A Self-Correcting Problem

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 2, 2006 - 10:20am

My first Voice of San Diego column, in which I made the case that there is no housing shortage in San Diego, drew some vaguely (and, in some cases, not so vaguely) hostile letters. This wasn't too surprising in itself; what surprised me was that the letters all missed the point of the article. Each one berated me for failing to mention that there is a shortage of affordable housing in San Diego. Which is funny, because it sure seems to me like I have an entire website dedicated to discussing the unaffordability of Southern California homes.

This week's Voice column, entitled Housing Is Unaffordable—For Now, discusses two issues. Part I explains that the point of the earlier Voice article was not at all to deny that there is an affordability problem, but to show that the standard rationalization for sky-high housing prices (too many people, not enough houses) is not valid. Part II discusses the fact that there certainly is a problem with housing affordability, but that due to economic realities this problem will eventually fix itself.

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The Real Estate Economy

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 26, 2006 - 9:42am

This week's Voice column concerns a topic about which I love to prattle on seemingly without end. And that is the fact that San Diego's ostensibly robust economy is, under the surface, not very robust at all.

When discussing a potential housing downturn, many pundits contend that "it won't happen here" because San Diego is no longer dependent upon the vulnerable defense industry, as it was during the last housing bust into he early 1990s. While it's true that the defense industry no longer dominates the economic landscape, this argument ignores the inescapable fact that our economy is now beholden to the real estate industry itself. Should the trends of home price flatness or declining sales volume continue, San Diego's eocnomic vulnerability will be exposed soon enough.

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The Myth of the Housing Shortage

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 19, 2006 - 9:40am
Each Thursday hence I will be writing a housing column for the Voice of San Diego. This week's article concerns the San Diego housing shortage. Specifically, that there isn't one. It also posits some ideas as to why people continue to believe there is a housing shortage—a "crisis," even—despite the fact that the data clearly proves otherwise.
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