From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

And yet another post about housing

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With all the negative news about housing, the market may have a tendency to grasp at any straw that floats along. In today’s news, that straw is a report from the census bureau that home ownership rates — which have been declining steadily for two years, and are now at a 13-year low — seemed to reverse trend in the 3rd quarter and rise by 0.4% to 66.3%.

courtesy U.S. Census Bureau, 11/9/11

Of course, a quick read of the footnotes belies the problem with this pronouncement. First, as you can see, there’s a fair amount of cycling around long-term trends, and that’s probably what this is. Second, on a seasonally adjusted basis (which is really where the truth can be found), the increase was only 0.2%, which is statistically insignificant. Further, on a year-to-year basis, we’re still lower than where we were a year ago, which really underscores the long-term trend. I continue to believe that ownership rates will stabilize somewhere above 64%, but probably pretty close to it. At the current trend, that may take 3 – 5 years.

More importantly, though, an increase in housing demand (and prices) led us out of prior recessions, but housing is continuing to be a drag on the market following this most recent one. Unless and until the housing market doldrums stabilize, solid economic growth will elude us.

courtesy U.S. Census Bureau, 11/9/11

Written by johnkilpatrick

November 9, 2011 at 8:24 am

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