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.

Foreclosure Freeze Could Have Mixed Results

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 8, 2010 - 6:34pm
As many of you have doubtless read over the past week or so, it seems that some loan servicers have been a bit lax in following those pesky "rules" when processing foreclosures. 

In some states, California not among them, the foreclosure process requires that servicers sign an affidavit swearing that they have confirmed certain facts about the loan to be foreclosed upon.  In their efforts to blaze through all the piled-up foreclosures, some servicers signed such forms in bulk without having actually confirmed the individual facts.  This puts the legitimacy of some foreclosures into question.

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Home Prices Rose in July; High Tier Weak Again

Submitted by Rich Toscano on September 30, 2010 - 3:29pm
The Case-Shiller index of San Diego home prices was up by .7 percent between June and July... 



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Both Job Surveys Indicate San Diego Slowdown

Submitted by Rich Toscano on September 25, 2010 - 5:17pm
We haven't checked in on the household job survey in a while.  This set of employment data is distinct from the "establishment survey" I usually cite in a couple of ways.  The household survey is conducted by polling -- as the name would suggest -- households about their employment status, while the the establishment survey polls businesses.  The effect of this difference is that the household survey measures employment among people who live in San Diego (regardless of where they are employed) and the establishment survey gauges employment at San Diego businesses (regardless of where those businesses' employees live).  The second big difference is that the household survey counts self-employed people, while the establishment survey does not.



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Local Job Market Takes a Turn for the Worse

Submitted by Rich Toscano on September 20, 2010 - 7:31pm
The news has been pretty good on the San Diego job front this year.  Not great, or even close to it -- but good.  Employment rose steadily in the year through June even when accounting for the temporary effect of US Census jobs.  Employment decreased in July, but this is a seasonal effect that happens each year largely as a result of school getting out.  Despite the summer break for educators, July saw employment in the "non-bubble" sectors of the economy grow on a year-over-year basis for the first time since October 2008.

Last month, in contrast, was not so good.  That is, according to the estimates from the payroll survey conducted each month by California's Employee Development Department.

The graph below shows that San Diego employment is estimated to have dropped by .2 percent between July and August:



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Higher-Priced Home Weakness Asserts Itself Again in June

Submitted by Rich Toscano on September 2, 2010 - 4:36pm
The Case-Shiller home price index for San Diego was up a mild .4 percent overall in June.  Hidden in that increase, however, was a drop in the high-priced tier (composed of the most expensive one-third of homes sold during the April-through-June measurement period).

This continues the general (though recently dormant) trend in which the rebound has been far stronger in the low-priced than the high-priced tier, with the mid-priced tier splitting the difference:



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Non-Bubble Job Growth Goes Positive

Submitted by Rich Toscano on August 21, 2010 - 3:10pm
I can't get too specific in titles, as much as I'd sometimes like to, so let me quickly clarify the subject of this post: the non-housing-bubble portion of the economy grew on a year-over-year basis in July.  This is a significant milestone, as the last time the non-bubble private sector registered an annual increase in employment was back at the beginning of the big crash in October 2008.



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Bubble Sectors Account for Bulk of Job Losses

Submitted by Rich Toscano on August 1, 2010 - 7:24pm
In my analysis of the local job market I've long singled out what I referred to as the "housing bubble beneficiary sectors."  As the name implies, these industries enjoyed huge growth as a direct result of San Diego's housing bubble.  They were, in no particular order:
  • Construction, which grew enormously as a result of the scramble to build to homes.
  • Finance, a sector which includes real estate and which benefitted from vastly increased real estate and mortgage transactions.
  • Retail, which boomed as San Diego home owners cashed out their ever-growing home equity to finance spending sprees.
These industries flourished as the housing bubble inflated earlier in the decade, eventually becoming bloated well beyond what a normal, non-bubbly economy would call for.  I looked at this topic in a 2006 article in which I tried to relay how dependent San Diego's economy had become on the real estate bubble.  That things were out of balance was apparent in the rate at which the bubble sectors had grown during the decade to date: construction by 38 percent, finance and real estate by 18 percent, and retail by 10 percent.  For comparison, the rest of the economy had grown only 6 percent over that same period.  The housing bubble sectors accounted for 49 percent of all San Diego job growth during those first six years of the decade.

Predictably, the swollen bubble sectors deflated right along with the housing bubble itself.  And while much of economy suffered, the bubble sectors took the brunt of it.  In this article I will take a closer look at how much these three sectors contributed to the region's multi-year job loss trend in comparison to the rest of the region's industries.  Just for kicks, I am also going to break out the government sector because it accounts for a big chunk of local employment (19 percent as of June 2010) and, unlike the private sector, its ups and downs are not strongly affected by the business cycle.

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May Case-Shiller Charts

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 28, 2010 - 3:15pm
Kelly Bennett rounded up the latest Case-Shiller numbers yesterday. (Her final C-S writeup?  Sniff sniff...)  I don't have much to add to Kelly's analysis this latest release so I will just supplement with the usual assortment of charts:



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Local Non-Census Employment Rises Yet Again

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 21, 2010 - 3:04pm
Total San Diego employment dropped between May and June -- but the decline was caused by the mass laying off of temporary US Census workers who had previously been swelling the ranks of the employed. 



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Rising Inventory Could Stall Home Price Rally

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 1, 2010 - 10:40pm
The economics blog Calculated Risk put up a very interesting graph last week that showed the relationship between housing inventory and home prices at a national level.  It was so interesting, in fact, that I decided to "borrow" the concept and recreate the graph for San Diego County.

It is below, but it requires some explanation...



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Home Prices Rose Across the Board in April

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 29, 2010 - 4:44pm
All three of the Case-Shiller home price tiers for San Diego rose moderately in the month of April.  The low tier was back on top with a 1.0 percent rise, compared to .5 percent increase for the middle tier and a .3 percent rise for the high tier.

These numbers followed a very unusual March in which the previously stagnant high tier registered a huge increase and the formerly robust low tier actually declined.  April's price movements were a lot more in line with what we've seen during the price bounce that's prevailed since last spring.



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San Diego's Job Growth Streak Carries On

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 23, 2010 - 5:08pm
As it has every month since January, according to the latest estimates from the state of California, San Diego's regional employment grew in May. 

But what (as I imagine some of the more bearish readers are thinking, and, perhaps, readying to inform me via electronic nastygram) of the effect of temporary hiring for the US Census?  It's a fair question.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that short-lived census jobs accounted for a over 95 percent of nationwide hiring in May.  Isn't the same thing going on here?

No, as it turns out.



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The Many Faces of Shadow Inventory

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 20, 2010 - 2:53pm
After the last entry on foreclosure activity, a couple of readers sent in articles with more data relevant to the topic of "shadow inventory."

A commenter at my own site linked to a May Union-Tribune article about mortgage delinquencies.  Delinquencies are defined as mortgages on which payments are late by a certain number of days (60 in this case).  The reason this figure is interesting is that it captures all currently troubled mortgages, not just those that have been served with Notices of Default.  So delinquencies are a more inclusive measure of potential shadow inventory.

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Foreclosures Still Piling Up

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 16, 2010 - 7:44pm

Let's check in on San Diego foreclosure activity...



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Case-Shiller High Tier Comes Alive

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 25, 2010 - 7:59pm
After languishing since last summer even as the mid- and low-priced tiers rallied, the high-priced tier of the Case-Shiller home price index finally showed some signs of life.  The high tier of the index, comprising the most expensive one-third of homes sold during the measurement period, leapt 2.9 percent between February and March. 



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