The housing market is down — sales, prices, applications. And there is glut of research that shows how much and why.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency said that in October prices fell 0.2% from September. For the 12 months that ended in October, prices were down 2.8%. The federal number that does not appear to match any other is that housing prices are down 19.2% from their April 2007 peak.
Almost all private sector data shows that home prices have fallen 25% to 30% from 2006/2007 to now. Private data from Realtytrac, Zillow and the National Association of Realtors indicate that foreclosures are so high that there is an inventory of more than 10 million homes to be cleared. Corelogic reports that there is a shadow inventory of 1.6 million houses that need to be sold but are not officially on the market.
The NAR just disclosed that since 2007 it has overstated sales of previously owned homes by 3 million. In a housing market in which, during some months, only a few hundred homes are sold, the miscalculation is substantial.
It may not be important to know exactly how many homes are in foreclosure or how many are for sale, or how many have underwater mortgages. It would be nice to know, and perhaps it would go a little way toward setting solutions to the home price and sales depression. But the problem is so bad that exact statistics do not matter much.
Douglas A. McIntyre