June 30, 2006

‘The Bursting Bubble Will Truly Create A Buyers Market’

The Friday desk clearing starts with this news. “Single-family housing starts have declined 27.2 percent for the first five months of the year compared to the first five months of 2005, according to a report by the California Building Industry Association, and starts were 22.4 percent lower in May 2006 than in May 2005.”

“‘Most other markets are holding steady in multifamily units, with the exception of San Diego County, where development has declined markedly, predominantly because of a near-total cutback in downtown high-rise development,’ CBIA Chief Economist Alan Nevin said.”

A quote of the week from the Palm Beach Post. “‘I was driving some clients around downtown West Palm Beach, and they asked, ‘What’s that crane for?’ I said, ‘It’s a condo.’ ‘And what’s that crane for?’ ‘It’s another condo.’ Finally, I said, ‘Look, every crane you see is a condo, so stop asking.’” -Neil Merin.”

The Houston Chronicle. “New home starts are on track to hit 50,000 units for the first time ever in the Houston area. ‘This year’s shaping up to be better than last,’ Mike Inselmann, president of Metrostudy. Inselmann downplayed the effect of rising interest rates, noting that consumers who believe the values of their homes will continue to rise will find a way to hold on to their homes.”

“‘I am concerned, but I’m not overly concerned,’ he said. Rising rates may also mean more foreclosures, especially for those who opted for adjustable-rate mortgages when rates were falling. Foreclosures have doubled in the Houston area in the past two to three years, he noted.”

The Weekly reports, ‘Atlanta homes for sale exceeds 90,000.’ “The billboard campaign lets everyone know how many homes are for sale in MLS and FMLS. The total number of homes for sale in MLS and FMLS has never been available to the general public before now.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Midtown’s condo construction frenzy has current residents worried about a possible market glut that would depress prices and sales among existing units. ‘You have a lot of people buying who are really interested in living in the building,’ said developer Conor McNally.”

“Real estate developers are building still more condos as American businessmen and foreigners jet in from overseas to snap up Montreal condominiums. Meanwhile, the more telling number is the number of unsold new condos, it continues to increase, from just over 500 in 2001 to a whopping 2,000 unoccupied units this year.”

A rare report from Lebanon. “Lately it seems there are more cranes than buildings rising from Beirut’s skyline, and Gulf investors continue to funnel oil revenues into mega-construction projects in the Beirut Central District.”

“Some analysts have questioned whether the real-estate boom is in fact a bubble. But Solidere general manager, Mounir Douaidy shrugs off this notion. ‘What’s happening in the Gulf is a bubble, but what’s happening in Solidere is steady growth,’ he said.”

And from the Pine Journal. “The northeastern Minnesota housing bubble is on the brink of popping. Anyone who’s bought a house, sold a house or has been involved in the real estate business in the past six years has seen house prices skyrocket.”

“If we’re going to bring the market back down to where it should be, don’t be afraid to make an offer that’s a tad below ‘too little.’ A lot of folks will say, ‘You don’t want to insult the seller, make your offer fair.’ But what about the seller insulting the buyer by asking for far more than it’s worth?”

“And if the seller is ‘insulted’ by the offer, the worst that can happen is you don’t buy the house, and move on to the next one. Any home buyer has to be realistic. But you certainly don’t deserve to pay a mint either. The bursting of the Northland’s real estate bubble will truly create a buyer’s market. Spend wisely.”

Defaults For Property ‘Bought With The Intent To Sell’

The Frederick News Post has this from Virginia. “Worried Fredericksburg-area homeowners may start calling Ken Scruggs if the Federal Reserve raises rates. The (mortgage broker) in Fredericksburg said people with adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, are getting anxious to lock in a fixed-interest rate.”

“‘We’re seeing people coming in now out of fear,’ he said. ‘They’d rather refinance now than take a chance that [interest rates] will reach 9 [percent] or 10 percent in a few years.’”

“An increase of just a few percentage points can make a huge difference in mortgage payments. A monthly payment of $1,500 on a $500,000 ARM, for example, doubles to $3,000 when interest rates climb from 3 to 6 percent. ‘There are not a lot of people who can come up with $3,000 a month,’ Scruggs said.”

“Some residents are struggling to hold onto their houses. The number of foreclosures in the Fredericksburg region has climbed from 19 in the first quarter of 2005 to 80 during the same time period this year.”

“Stafford and Spotsylvania counties had the most foreclosures locally. The number jumped from 10 in the first quarter of 2005 to 36 in the first quarter of 2006 in Spotsylvania, and from 3 to 29 during the same time frames in Stafford. Those also are among the fastest growing counties in Virginia and the country, which means that more people have been taking out mortgages on houses, second homes and investment properties, pointed out Mike Fratantoni, senior economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association.”

“The handful of foreclosures that Ron Davis, CEO of Virginia Heartland Bank, has seen, for example, involved people who had bought property with the intent to sell, but got stuck with unanticipated mortgage payments when the real estate boom started to stall.”

“‘Between the fourth quarter of 2005 and the first quarter of 2006, there was an increase of $300 billion in mortgage debt outstanding nationally,’ he said. ‘It’s a $9 trillion dollar market that’s been growing at a double-digit rate.’”

“That’s small comfort, however, for the people who wind up coming to Deanna Hathaway for advice. She’s an attorney for Boleman Law Firm in Richmond, which specializes in bankruptcies and foreclosures. One of the first steps they tend to take is to pay off their debts by tapping into their house’s equity or refinancing, Hathaway said. Mortgage lenders have come out with a number of new loans that can make this attractive.”

“‘Anyone considering refinancing should come in with a long-range financial plan rather than in a panic,’ Scruggs warned. ‘They shouldn’t refinance just because they want to buy a pickup. That catches up with you.’”

Getting In On The Condo Glut In West Palm Beach

A pair of reports from Florida, starting in Polk County. “Only one feature of The Ledger’s Polk Business Barometer, new housing permits, is heading south. But although building permits issued in May fell 27.4 percent to 637 single-family homes, the decline appears to be a temporary blip in an otherwise growing industry.”

“‘If you look at building permit numbers over the years, last year was driven by investor frenzy, the expectation that home prices would go up 30 percent a year every year,’ said Mike Hickman, a Lakeland home contractor. ‘All that (the May decline) tells me is that the get-richquick speculators have left the market.’”

And the Palm Beach Post found a couple of condo bubble contrarians. “Amid what many call a glut of condos in West Palm Beach, two developers are spending big to put up even more units. Co-owner Pasquale Renzi said he hopes to build 600 to 800 units on the property, which is just north of another condo project, The Whitney.”

“Premier’s Bradley Deckelbaum said he plans 170 units on the site, which is between two other planned condos, Barcelona Square and Prism.”

“One real estate expert was incredulous that developers are still betting on a market that many consider already overbuilt. The city of West Palm Beach says 5,200 condo units are planned or under construction in the city. Jack McCabe puts the number at 6,600 units.”

“‘A very large oversupply is going to hit the market,’ McCabe said. ‘There just isn’t anything to justify the volume of units that are currently under way, let alone any new units being announced.’”

“Both developers said they’ve found a niche in the market, although they have different strategies. Premier Developers is aiming for the high end of the market, Deckelbaum said. ‘Our project, I’m sure everyone says this, is a little different from what’s already out there,’ Deckelbaum said. ‘We build condominiums as primary homes. It’s not your typical investor and second-home project.’”

“Renzi’s units, on the other hand, will be smaller and priced from $300,000 for a one-bedroom unit to nearly $1 million for a three-bedroom unit, which Renzi called the ‘affordable’ end of the market.”

“Renzi bought the property from residential developer Kenco Communities. Kenco’s broker in the sale, Neil Merin, predicted Renzi will begin building as the glut eases. ‘We’re overbuilt,’ Merin said. ‘We have an inventory that needs to be absorbed. By the time (Renzi) gets ready to build, it’ll be three to four years, so he’ll probably do all right.’”

“‘I don’t think there’s a glut,’ Renzi said. ‘But this is the time when people are getting scared, so it’s a good time to get in.’”

‘Market Is Going To Be Dicey’ In Phoenix Area

The Arizona Republic has these updates on the Phoenix area. “West Valley home prices have held relatively steady since the end of 2005, but resale homes are lingering on the market longer as developers try to unload their inventory of new homes using deep discounts and other incentives.”

“In the fourth quarter of 2005, the average resale home in Surprise’s 85374 ZIP code sat on the market for only 11 days before being snapped up. But in the first quarter of 2006, homes in that same area remained on the market for 50 days on average. That’s more than a 350 percent increase, the steepest jump among all ZIP codes in the Valley.”

“With the downturn in the housing market, speculators and home buyers are canceling their reservations, pushing developers to give enormous incentives and Realtors a bigger slice of the pie.”

“David Nichols, a Surprise real estate broker, says the sharpest increases are occurring in communities where the greatest number of new homes is being built, places such as Surprise, Mesa and Gilbert. ‘This is just a minor hiccup that has received a lot of sensationalism,’ he said. ‘It’s too bad.’”

“Worried about declining home values in the Valley? If you live in central Phoenix, north Scottsdale and patches of the East or West Valley, you don’t need to fret. In other pockets around metropolitan Phoenix, the average price of an existing home dropped 6, 7, even 12 percent from the fourth quarter of 2005 to the first quarter of this year.”

“‘The Valley’s housing market is going to be dicey for a while, and it’s best to track it by neighborhood,’ said Terry Turk, president of Sun American Mortgage of Mesa. ‘I don’t think we are at the bottom of the market, but it shouldn’t be a dramatic drop from here.’”

“(Broker) John Foltz said home prices in established Valley neighborhoods should be stable, but newer areas on the perimeter, such as Queen Creek and the far West Valley, are likely to struggle as new homes continue to go up. Part of Glendale in the West Valley saw a 7 percent dip. The average price of a home on the southeastern edge of Mesa dropped 12 percent.”

“‘It’s possible that home prices will drop 5 to 10 percent overall,’ said Jay Butler, director of the Arizona Real Estate Center at Arizona State University Polytechnic.”

“Declines should be pretty painless to most homeowners, unless they bought last year during the peak, have tapped all the equity in their homes or are trying to sell. Home prices in most of those neighborhoods shot up more than 100 percent in the past five years.”

‘The Morning After The Boom’ In North Carolina

A rare housing bubble report from North Carolina. “The morning after the big real estate boom is roughest in places like Carolina Beach where speculation pushed some prices up close to 100 percent over two years. But the giddiness of 2005 is a memory in a lot of places.”

“May marked the fourth month in a row that the number of homes sold declined from the same time last year, according to the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors, which covers New Hanover and parts of Pender and Brunswick counties.”

“Last summer, real estate on Carolina Beach was so hot resident Vick Gore said he could mow his lawn and a Realtor would approach and offer to list his second-row home. Now the search is for buyers. Nearly 800 Carolina Beach properties are on the market, many of them new construction like the duplexes surrounding Gore’s 70-year-old cottage, one of them with a ‘reduced price’ sign in the front yard.”

“‘There’s nothing happening down here,’ Gore said, adding that another of his properties near Snow’s Cut has attracted barely a serious nibble in the six months since he put a sign on it.”

“From January to March this year, median price for an existing single family home in the county dropped to $198,000 from $235,000, according to a data-collection company.”

“Broker Martie Rice expects more decreases in prices on Pleasure Island, a boon for the person looking to keep the property for two or three years and use it. ‘Someone can get a terrific value on a really nice home,’ she said. ‘Just don’t plan to make a profit on it in the next 12 months.’”

“(Realtor) Justin Donaton in Carolina Beach said..people who bought before last year might not be able to sell for all they hoped, but they probably still can make money, he said.”

“It’s trickier if you bought last year. ‘Good properties and fair prices are going to sell,’ he said. ‘A fair price probably isn’t last July or August’s prices.’”

Weekend Topic Suggestions

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June 29, 2006

Reaching The Dream Without Moving In California

A trio of reports from California. The Monterey Herald, “Speaking this week, Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist for the California Association of Realtors, painted a picture of a changing housing market, where for-sale homes linger, multiple bids no longer push prices skyward, and homeowners are more likely to hold onto what they have.”

“Last year was a milestone, with 480,000 homes sold in California at or above the $1 million mark. ‘Many in California have reached the dream of living in a million-dollar home without moving,’ said Appleton-Young.”

“Appleton-Young said Realtors can’t afford to misprice homes or to take on clients who aren’t serious about selling. ‘This is not the kind of market where we need excess inventory,’ she said.” “J.R. Rouse, Monterey County Association of Realtors past president, said it is still a good time for buyers to act. ‘When you look at the market as a whole, you can buy a lot more house for less than you could six months ago,’ he said.”

“Another chapter of the state’s real estate story, yet to come, is the fallout from an oversaturated market of real estate professionals. The road up to the Tehama Golf Club for the annual Realtors meeting spoke volumes; no shortage of Escalade, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Jaguar emblems, some BMWs.”

“But there’s already been fallout: 110 members have left since January, with more expected to follow as sales remain sluggish.”

The Fresno Bee. “Property in the Valley appears to be holding its value better than some other parts of the state, especially around the capital. Prices in parts of Sacramento and Placer counties fell from a year previously.”

“The median price in Placer County declined 2% from May 2005, with Auburn showing the sharpest drop; 8% to $439,000. In nearby Fair Oaks, values fell almost 16%. Joan Jolly, president of the Fresno Association of Realtors, said, ‘We’re just having a little air coming out of the balloon.’”

The Sacramento Bee. “Sacramento home shopper John Daniels said the thought of falling prices worries him less than buying a place at current prices that consume too much of his pay. ‘I kind of like to have golf weekends and things of that nature,’ he said, ‘and having to pay outlandish amounts for a mortgage, that’s what’s scaring me more than anything.’”

“Todd Cramer, who has been building homes since the 1960s, said the market has been fueled by years of risky borrowing. A slowdown, he said, would actually help bring prices in line with the typical buyers’ finances. ‘I think we’re at large risk here, but it’s good for Sacramento,’ Cramer said. ‘We need to see prices coming back down for our economy. I think it would be a good adjustment.’”

Global Property Boom ‘Turning Into A Bust’

Thw Washington Post reports on the pending Fed decision. “The Federal Reserve is on track to lift its benchmark interest rate again today for a 17th consecutive quarter-percentage-point increase over 25 months, making this the longest sustained campaign on record of raising interest rates.”

“So why isn’t the economy choking by now? The short answer is that money is still pretty cheap, in historical terms.”

From MarketWatch. “Evidence is mounting that the global property cycle is turning down, as rising interest rates and heightened inflationary pressures combine to put the brakes on demand for real estate, according to a Morgan Stanley report.”

“‘Due to deflation shocks, global inflation has been low, which allowed major central banks to keep interest rates very low, in turn fueling property,’ economist Andy Xie said. ‘As inflation picks up simultaneously around the world, interest rates are rising everywhere, and the property boom is turning into a bust.’”

“Unlike in previous property cycles, Xie said institutional property investors have been active in shifting capital between different cities, leading to the rare situation where prices gained in unison around the world.”

“‘Innovations in the global financial system have led to a rising correlation of property markets to each other and central bank-policies. It has essentially turned deflationary shocks of the past 10 years into a global property bubble,’ Xie said.”

“He cites some telling statistics to illustrate his point. The value of U.S. housing has risen to 173% of gross domestic in 2005 from 135% in 2000. And in Australia, housing values rose to 347% of GDP in 2005 from 271% in 2000.”

From the Reuters summit. “U.S. real estate executives hope the Federal Reserve Bank signals interest rate hikes are complete after the latest expected increase this week. Inflation and potential Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, and how many of them, are the top concerns among the executives, who spoke at the Reuters Real Estate Summit.”

“Beazer Homes CEO Ian McCarthy does not think the Fed has been too aggressive so far, but worries about more increases beyond this week. ‘If there’s one more increase..that would probably be good. Do we need any more than that? I’m not sure that we do,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to tighten the economy down so far that it impacts the markets.’”

“However, Robert Toll, CEO of Toll Brothers said the repeated quarter-point interest rate increases have been somewhat maddening. ‘This Chinese water treatment of a quarter of a point (hikes), it hasn’t had its desired effect,’ he said. ‘Do I think the Fed has overdone it? No,’ Toll added. ‘I think the Fed has underdone it in the past.’”

An update. “The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to raise its target for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 5-1/4 percent.”

“Recent indicators suggest that economic growth is moderating from its quite strong pace earlier this year, partly reflecting a gradual cooling of the housing market and the lagged effects of increases in interest rates and energy prices.”

“Although the moderation in the growth of aggregate demand should help to limit inflation pressures over time, the Committee judges that some inflation risks remain. The extent and timing of any additional firming that may be needed to address these risks will depend on the evolution of the outlook for both inflation and economic growth, as implied by incoming information.”

“In any event, the Committee will respond to changes in economic prospects as needed to support the attainment of its objectives.”

‘Complacency And Denial’ In Florida

The Herald Tribune has this update from Florida. “For months, real estate pundits have been talking about..an erosion of pricing. In May, in Southwest Florida, it happened. Prices in the Charlotte County-North Port market dropped 2 percent when compared with the same month in 2005. It might be the first drop in pricing since the early 1990s, long-term market observers said.”

“In the Sarasota MLS, for example, there are now 7,304 houses available for sale, three and a half times the level of a year ago. The average weekly sales rate is now 97, down 38 percent from a year ago.”

“‘The rate of deterioration has accelerated,’ economist David Scott said. ‘For every house that was available for sale last year at this time, there are four or five times as many now.’”

“Peter Schiff, an acknowledged long-time real estate bear who runs an investment firm, said home prices are at the beginning stage of a fairly lengthy decline that will leave many homeowners, investors and lenders hurting. ‘The market has topped. We haven’t had the bursting yet. There is still complacency out there, and denial,’ he said.”

“Statistics show the market is absorbing 15 percent of the available supply, Schiff said. He figures that by the end of the year, less than 10 percent of the houses now for sale will sell, leaving record-high supply. ‘If you figure prices started getting out of control three or four years ago, prices are going to fall back below what they were when the whole thing started,’ he said.”

The Wall Street Journal. “In some markets, such as South Florida, vacancy rates for large apartment buildings are down and rents are up. However, the supply of condos and homes available to rent in the region is growing as investors clamor to rent out properties they are having trouble selling.”

“Owners of large rental buildings fear that this ’shadow supply’ of rental properties could eventually put a lid on rent increases in some markets where speculation has been rampant.”

“‘We’re having a flood of rental properties coming back into the market simply because the investors who bought with the intention of flipping them have not been able to,’ says Brenda F. Gerdes, broker-owner of a property-management firm in Port St. Lucie, where average rental rates for properties owned by individual investors have fallen about 20 percent over the past year.”

“Real-estate agents say individual investors need to be realistic about their asking rents, even if the rent isn’t enough to cover their monthly costs. Robert Fowler, owner of a rental Web site, tells clients to base their asking rents on what similar properties are fetching, not the rents charged by large apartment complexes. If tenants aren’t forthcoming, ‘don’t wait too long before making adjustments,’ he adds.”

“J.P. Johnson has been trying for the past three months to rent out a four-bedroom, 31/2-bath home in Palm Beach Gardens, that he purchased for $661,000. He recently dropped the asking rent to $3,000 from $3,300 but has yet to find a tenant. ‘The market has slowed down,’ he says. ‘We have had a few phone calls, but nothing solid.’”

‘Double The Inventory And We Still Have A Shortage’

The Patriot Ledger reports they are still talking about a shortage in Massachusetts. “Where have all the buyers gone? A single-family home on the market now takes an average of 121 days to sell, compared with 96 days a year ago. Condo sales are almost as sluggish. Those trends have led to a record number of housing units on the market in Massachusetts for a second month in a row.”

“‘This trend is going to continue to a flattening-out of appreciation to the 3, 4, 5 percent range,’ said David Wluka, the president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. Wluka said more than two-thirds of the homes on the market are priced above what someone with a median income in the Bay State can comfortably afford.”

“‘The mismatch (between incomes and home prices) continues and it’s another concept that’s hard to get across to people,’ he said. ‘Here we have double the inventory we had last year and we still have a housing shortage.’”

“Richard Cahill, president of (a) Norwell-based real estate agency said he believes the market may actually be reaching its bottom. ‘People try to figure out where is the end and where is the beginning’ of a trend, he said. ‘The next thing people will be saying is, ‘Heck, I wish I bought when it was there.’”

The Needham Times has this report. “Needham’s median price fell from last year by $59,000 to $582,000. Many local real estate agennts consider the fall in prices an adjustment to the double-digit increases seen over the past few years.”

“‘Prices moderated slightly since late winter or early spring,’ said (agent) Rich Gatto. ‘It feels as if sellers are getting more realistic.’”

“Gatto said clients were trying to fetch prices as high as their neighbors received a year or two ago. But the properties were remaining on the market month after month. Eventually, sellers were convinced to lower their list prices.”

“A couple of years ago, an ‘all-time’ high for numbers of properties listed was 116, according to (broker) Louise Condon. As of last Sunday, 231 single-family homes were for sale in Needham. ‘The stock just doubled,’ Condon said. ‘People had their choice.’”

“Despite the price adjustments and plethora of options for buyers, though, (consultant) Harriet Lieb said properties just sit, unsold. ‘There are some really good buys out there, but they are just not going,’ Lieb said. ‘There should be a run on these houses, but there isn’t.’”

Bits Bucket And Craigslist Finds For June 29, 2006

Please post your off-topic ideas, links and Craigslist finds here!

June 28, 2006

Y-O-Y Declines ‘Going To Take Some Getting Used To’

The California press reacts to the May numbers. The Daily News, “California’s residential real estate market continued its decline in May with the median housing price making its first single digit increase in more than six years and a trade association on Monday issuing a big downward revision in its 2006 sales forecast.”

“The California Association of Realtors now expects the sales total this year to fall an annual 16.8 percent, 14.8 percentage points more that last September’s forecast. That would be the steepest drop since a 30.2 percent plunge 24 years ago.”

“Sales fell in all 20 major markets tracked by the association. The declines ranged from a high of 44.4 percent along Santa Barbara County’s south coast to a low of 2 percent in Santa Cruz County. Year-to-date sales are down 19.5 percent, the association said.”

“Santa Barbara County’s median fell 9.3 percent to $677,630; north Santa Barbara County fell 3.2 percent to $453,330; Santa Cruz fell 0.3 percent to $755,000; and the Palm Springs/Lower Desert area declined 3.54 percent to $374,830.”

“‘This is kind of the apex..of the curve. There is no doubt we’ve been expecting this. We thought it would happen earlier,’ said John Karevoll, an analyst DataQuick.”

The Daily Bulletin. “A local real estate agent says Tuesday’s housing report from the California Association of Realtors can be summed up in one word. Yay.”

“That was (broker) Bill Velto’s reaction to the news that home prices increased only 8 percent statewide from May 2005 to May 2006. ‘It’s the first time in nearly five years that we’ve had less than a double-digit increase,’ said Velto in Upland. ‘The indicators are all good and it’s the kind of price increase that is a lot more reasonable and sustainable than what we have been having.’”

From Long Beach. “The California report shows price depreciation was seen across some Southern California communities for the first time in years. The median price in Cerritos fell 0.1 percent, though prices there are still high, with a median of over $639,000. Still, about eight other Los Angeles communities saw price declines.”

“‘We’re beginning to see more communities showing year-over-year declines,’ CAR economist Robert Kleinhenz said. ‘It’s going to take some getting used to.’”

From San Francisco. “Homeowners across most of the Bay Area stand a 55 percent or greater chance that their property values will slip in the next two years, according to a quarterly study by a mortgage insurer. Still, many industry insiders remain optimistic.”

“‘The lending community is endlessly innovative, and they’re trying to develop products to deal with the affordability problem in California,’ said Mark Milner, chief risk officer at PMI Mortgage Insurance, which released the survey”

The Record.net. “Local builders report that although prices generally haven’t been slashed in San Joaquin County, buyer incentives have become commonplace in the past several months.”

“National Association of Home Builder’s chief economist, David Seiders, said the group’s builders surveys indicate weaker demand for homes coinciding with higher interest rates, deepening affordability issues and a retreat of investors/speculators from the market.”

“‘We don’t think the cooling process for housing is over yet, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see..some decline in coming months,’ Seiders said.”

The State Hornet. “Several University of California-Los Angeles’ Anderson School analysts said a housing market dip could lead to job losses in some industries, especially construction.”

“The prediction of a slowdown in the real estate market did not come as a surprise to many forecast attendees. Addressing an audience of mostly corporate businesspeople, Mike McCook asked members of the crowd to raise their hands if they thought real estate was never going to slow down.”

“The crowd laughed at the nonexistent show of hands.”

“Edward Leamer, director of the Anderson Forecast, began the event by jokingly requesting that audience-members keep their cell phones on, in case they were called and told their house was offered a sale before house prices begin to decrease.”