July 27, 2010 – The Residential Housing Market is Still Burning Down


1) The Residential Housing Market is Still Burning Down. Today, the Commerce Department reported that June new home sales, at 330,000, were up a blistering 24%. So is the crash in residential real estate over? It's off to the races, right? Wrong! Much of the gains were cancelled out by whopping great downward revisions which caused April to shrink from 504,000 to 422,000, and May to shrivel from 300,000 to an unbelievable 267,000, a 60 year low. Every time I update my prediction that home prices are either going south or nowhere for a decade, my inbox gets flooded with angry emails from real estate agents around the country and other industry apologists screaming that I am missing record home affordability and historic low 30 year mortgage interest rates. Over the weekend I received an assist from Barrons (click here for the link), which highlighted an unexplored angle in the real estate crisis. The coming demographic curve predicts that there will be a shortage of those aged 35-49, prime first time home buyers. At the same time, there will be an oversupply of those over 50, like me, who are looking to downsize their housing requirements. The net effect is for national home ownership that peaked in 2004 at 69% to fall as low to as 64% by 2015, its 1993-94 bottom. The flip side is that renters will soar from 32.8% to 36% during the same time period. Needless to say, this is terrible news for house prices. It also explains why low end multifamily housing, where newly formed young families and immigrants reside, is one of the few sectors of the housing markets showing a pulse. If you want more depth on this politically sensitive issue, please read my notorious piece on 'The Hard Truth About Residential Real Estate' by clicking here.