Tag Archives: Shiller on prices

On the other hand, Shiller is guardedly optimistic

He sees bubble danger in areas where prices have recently zoomed (that’s not Greenwich) but doesn’t think continued high unemployment necessarily means prices will drop. I guess we’ll see.

U.S. home prices in August rose for the fourth straight month. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas rose 1.2 percent in August from July, topping the estimate of a 0.7 percent rise according to in a Reuters poll.

“The prominent fact that we are seeing with this data is that home prices are just zipping up,” Shiller said.

“It is entirely possible that even with the bad news we are getting, home prices could start a major increase,” he said.

Prices in the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas gained 1.3 percent in August after a 1.7 percent rise the previous month, according to the S&P composite index.

Shiller said he does not agree with analysts who believe that rising unemployment will hurt home prices. The U.S. jobless rate reached a 26-year high of 9.8 percent in September.

“It is unlikely that we will have the major, colossal bubble we had a few years ago, but even in the Great Depression real home prices were rising with the unemployment rate above 12 percent,” he said. “Just because we have high unemployment does not mean the stock market cannot boom and the housing market cannot boom.

“What happens from here will depend on people’s animal spirits and speculative impulses,” Shiller said.

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Robert Shiller on why house prices will continue to decline

 Because the real estate market doesn’t move as quickly as others.

NYT June 6

HOME prices in the United States have been falling for nearly three years, and the decline may well continue for some time.

 Even the federal government has projected price decreases through 2010. As a baseline, the stress tests recently performed on big banks included a total fall in housing prices of 41 percent from 2006 through 2010. Their “more adverse” forecast projected a drop of 48 percent — suggesting that important housing ratios, like price to rent, and price to construction cost — would fall to their lowest levels in 20 years.

Such long, steady housing price declines seem to defy both common sense and the traditional laws of economics, which assume that people act rationally and that markets are efficient. Why would a sensible person watch the value of his home fall for years, only to sell for a big loss? Why not sell early in the cycle? If people acted as the efficient-market theory says they should, prices would come down right away, not gradually over years, and these cycles would be much shorter.

But something is definitely different about real estate. Long declines do happen with some regularity. And despite the uptick last week in pending home sales and recent improvement in consumer confidence, we still appear to be in a continuing price decline.

There are many historical examples. After the bursting of the Japanese housing bubble in 1991, land prices in Japan’s major cities fell every single year for 15 consecutive years.

Why does this happen? One could easily believe that people are a little slower to sell their homes than, say, their stocks. But years slower?

Several factors can explain the snail-like behavior of the real estate market. An important one is that sales of existing homes are mainly by people who are planning to buy other homes. So even if sellers think that home prices are in decline, most have no reason to hurry because they are not really leaving the market.

Furthermore, few homeowners consider exiting the housing market for purely speculative reasons. First, many owners don’t have a speculator’s sense of urgency. And they don’t like shifting from being owners to renters, a process entailing lifestyle changes that can take years to effect.

Among couples sharing a house, for example, any decision to sell and switch to a rental requires the assent of both partners. Even growing children, who may resent being shifted to another school district and placed in a rental apartment, are likely to have some veto power.

In fact, most decisions to exit the market in favor of renting are not market-timing moves. Instead, they reflect the growing pressures of economic necessity. This may involve foreclosure or just difficulty paying bills, or gradual changes in opinion about how to live in an economic downturn.

This dynamic helps to explain why, at a time of high unemployment, declines in home prices may be long-lasting and predictable.

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