Friday, August 21, 2015

2012: Calling the House Price Bottom

by Bill McBride on 8/21/2015 09:21:00 AM

Note: CR is on vacation, and I will return on Sunday, August 23rd.

In 2005 and 2006, I was researching previous housing bubble / busts to try to predict what would happen following the bursting of the housing bubble.

So, in April 2008, when many pundits were calling the housing bottom, I wrote: Housing Bust Duration

After another year (or two) of rapidly falling prices, it's very likely that real prices will continue to fall - but at a slower pace. During the last few years of the bust, real prices will be flat or decline slowly - and the conventional wisdom will be that homes are a poor investment.

The Los Angeles bust took 86 months in real terms from peak to trough (about 7 years) using the Case-Shiller index. If the Composite 20 bust takes a similar amount of time, the real price bottom will happen in early 2013 or so.
And then in February 2012 I wrote: The Housing Bottom is Here
There are several reasons I think that house prices are close to a bottom. First prices are close to normal looking at the price-to-rent ratio and real prices (especially if prices fall another 4% to 5% NSA between the November Case-Shiller report and the March report). Second the large decline in listed inventory means less downward pressure on house prices, and third, I think that several policy initiatives will lessen the pressure from distressed sales (the probable mortgage settlement, the HARP refinance program, and more).
And in March 2013, I wrote about the two bottoms - one for activity and the other for prices: Housing: The Two Bottoms
I pointed out there are usually two bottoms for housing: the first for new home sales, housing starts and residential investment, and the second bottom is for house prices.
[I]t appears activity bottomed in 2009 through 2011 (depending on the measure) and house prices bottomed in early 2012.