Monday, December 8, 2008

We're Nowhere Near a Bottom in Housing

From Bloomberg:

One in 10 American homeowners fell behind on mortgage payments or were in foreclosure during the third quarter as the world’s largest economy shed jobs and real estate prices tumbled.

The share of mortgages 30 days or more overdue rose to a seasonally adjusted 6.99 percent while loans already in foreclosure rose to 2.97 percent, both all-time highs in a survey that goes back 29 years, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report today. The gain in delinquencies was driven by an increase of loans with payments 90 days or more overdue.


New foreclosures fell to 1.07 percent from 1.08 percent in the second quarter as some states enacted laws to temporarily stop home repossessions and lenders increased efforts to modify the terms of loans, Brinkmann said.


Purchases of existing homes in October slid to an annual rate of 4.98 million, lower than forecast, the National Association of Realtors said in a Nov. 24 report. The median price fell 11.3 percent from a year earlier, the most since the group began collecting data in 1968.

Despite what my friend New Deal Democrat says the housing market is still years away from a bottom. The primary problem is the massive dislocation between supply and demand. Here is a graph from Calculated Risk of the absolute supply of homes on the markets:

Click for a larger image

Notice that on an absolute level, the inventory of existing homes for sale is mammoth. All of the homes in foreclosure will add to that level, which means the downward pressure on prices will continue for some time. Here is a chart (also from Calculated Risk) of the Case Shiller home price index's year over year percentage change in price.

Click for a larger image

Basically home prices are in free fall right now.

When the year over year percentage change in home prices stabilizes we'll be near a bottom in housing.