~Welcome to the Econo-Almanac~

I started this website in mid-2004 to chronicle San Diego’s spectacular housing bubble.  The purpose of the site remains, as ever, to provide objective and evidence-based analysis of the San Diego housing market. A quick guide to the site follows:

  • New visitors are advised to begin with the Bubble Primer or (if wondering about the site name) the FAQ list.
  • Housing articles I’ve written are found in the main section below.
  • Discussion topics posted by site users are found in the “Active Forum Topics” box to the lower right.
  • This website is an avocation; by day I help people with their investments as a financial advisor*.  Market commentary, an overview of our investment approach, and more can be found on my firm's website.

Thanks for stopping by…

September 2012 Resale Housing Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 8, 2012 - 12:38pm
Inventory dropped again, prices rose again, and "The Chart" continues to do a bang-up job in indicating home price directionality...

Here's inventory, lest people thought last month's rise was the start of a new trend:

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Case-Shiller: Prices Up But Still Near Bottom

Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 7, 2012 - 2:39pm
The Case-Shiller home price index is the most accurate measure of aggregate prices, and as such it is great for long-term comparisons.  It also provides a useful distinction by breaking the price data into three tiers of expensiveness.

The downside is that numbers are very "stale." The recent September release, for example, only has price data through July, and that figure actually is calculated from sales that took place as early as May.

Because I haven't done much in the way of long-term comparisons, and because there was little of interest in the tiered data (all three price tiers have been acting very similar to one another), I haven't done a CS update in a while.  Let's check in on the most recent numbers.

The recent increase in prices that I've been occasionally documenting is clear in this chart of prices since the post-crash (aggregate) bottom in 2009.  For the year-to-date throguh July, the aggregate index is up a bit over 5 percent, and the low, mid, and high price tiers are all up similar amounts:

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org
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August 2012 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on September 9, 2012 - 4:09pm
After taking a breather in July, the median price per square foot rose again in August:

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Piggington going down for maintenance Fri afternoon

Submitted by Rich Toscano on August 30, 2012 - 5:48pm

Dear Piggs --

The site will be down for a while tomorrow afternoon so that I can move it to a new server. I'm not sure exactly when or for how long, so this warning is slightly useless, but better than nothing I guess.

Apologies for any unintended boost in productivity this may cause.



OK, the move is all complete. If anyone has any troubles with the site, please email me at rich @ pigg or PM me.

I wish to thank user afx114 for all the help on this. In addition to being a longtime loyal pigg, afx owns a hosting company called bit-box, which I am very happy to have as the new host for piggington and my other sites too. The guys at bit-box run a tight ship, their customer service is amazing, and the prices are very reasonable. If you are looking for a hosting provider, check them out.

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July 2012 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on August 21, 2012 - 11:03am
After a pretty steady rise for the year to this point, home prices (as measured by the median price per square foot) largely flattened out in July:

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June 2012 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 15, 2012 - 6:40pm
It was more of the same last month, as months of inventory remained very low:

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Case-Shiller Index Starts to Register Home Price Bounce

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 27, 2012 - 6:01pm
The recent increase in San Diego home prices has begun to show up in the (always lagging) Case-Shiller index. 

Between January, the month for which I last updated the C-S data, and April, the aggregate San Diego home price index has risen by 2.0 percent.  This increase was enjoyed entirely by the high- and mid-priced tiers, up 2.4 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.  The low tier actually declined by .7 percent, although that entire decline took place in February and the low tier has risen since then.

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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May 2012 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 23, 2012 - 2:41pm
Apologies for the tardiness of this month's rodeo.

I'll start with the chart I've been watching most closely -- months of inventory (inverted) in blue, and annualized monthly price change in red:

Months of inventory is now at the lowest level in many years, and as foreshadowed by the above graph, prices have been on the rise.

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April 2012 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 14, 2012 - 6:18pm
Inventory has remained super tight, and as the historical relationship depicted in the following chart would have predicted, prices have been on the rise:

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My Day Job - Year-End 2011 Edition

Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 11, 2012 - 8:09am
My company, Pacific Capital Associates, has recently completed the third-party examination of our investment track record for 2011.  (For background on this, see my inaugural explanation of these annual performance updates).  Here it is, in chart form... you can click on the chart for more detail and loads of fun disclosures:

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March 2012 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 15, 2012 - 6:56pm
Due to time constraints I am going to do a graph-only version of the rodeo this month.  Except for this part, I guess. 

I will quickly note the following:
  1. The median price per square foot did rise last month, as the low months-of-inventory figure suggested might happen
  2. Months of inventory (final graph) is 30% lower than last year, and the lowest it's been in at least 6 years (as far back as my data goes for this series)
  3. If the typical historical relationship between months of inventory and prices is still in place, inventory at these levels strongly suggests near term price rises
  4. Housing bears please note the use of the phrase "near term" before flaming me in the comments

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Why Bubbles Are Bad

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 1, 2012 - 2:15pm
I've often discussed how the three industries that I refer to as the "housing bubble beneficiary sectors" took the brunt of the recessionary job losses.  In this post, I have updated some graphs showing the enormous degree to which this is the case.

The bubble beneficiary sectors, so named because they grew like weeds as a result of the housing boom, are: construction, finance (which includes real estate transactions), and retail (not directly related to housing like the other two, but a bubble beneficiary nonetheless as a result of vigorous home equity-financed consumer spending).  In the graphs below, I have grouped these three sectors together as the "Housing Bubble Sectors" and charted the change in their size alongside that of the non-bubble private sector industries and government.

I took these graphs all the way back to the beginning of 2007 because the bubble sectors started to deflate alongside the housing bubble even before the recession officially began in December of that year.  In order to avoid seasonality problems, I started and ended the graphs on the same month (January 2007 through January 2012).

This first graph shows the number of jobs lost in each of these three categories:

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Employment Backed Off in Early 2012

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 30, 2012 - 6:10pm
According to the Employment Development Department latest estimates, seasonally-adjusted employment in San Diego is estimated to have dropped between December and January, and then to have rebounded somewhat February:

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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Case-Shiller Index Down in January

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 27, 2012 - 6:13pm
The Case-Shiller index of San Diego home prices declined once again in January, falling by 1.6 percent for the high-priced tier, 1.0 percent for the mid-priced tier, and .2 percent for the low-priced tier.  (The tiers represent, respectively, the top, middle, and bottom one-third of homes sold by price).  The overall San Diego index fell by 1.1 percent.

As the following graph shows that the middle and high tiers are now below the post-bubble low points they hit in early 2009.  (I guess that means I should remove the word "2009 trough" from these graphs).

continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

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February 2012 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 16, 2012 - 1:24pm
The median price per square foot was mixed last month, with single family homes up 2.0% but condos walloped for 4.3%.  In aggregate, prices by this measure were mildly up simply because a lot more single family homes than condos sell each month.  In any case, the single family series tends to be smoother and a more reliable indicator of what's really going on, so I'd say February was a mild win (or at least a tie) for prices:

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