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S&P/Case-Shiller Boston snapshot Aug 2007

 
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:40 am GMT    Post subject: S&P/Case-Shiller Boston snapshot Aug 2007 Reply with quote

Today Standard & Poor's released their S&P/Case-Shiller housing price index data for August 2007. Boston prices fell 3.6% from one year earlier, in nominal terms, as previously reported (Info/Broken?).

When the extended S&P/Case-Shiller futures were first introduced, Mike suggested that somebody archive the predictions of the futures contracts, and I proposed that a good time to do that would be each day that a futures contract is settled (i.e., quarterly). I set out to do this today, but then realized that I jumped the gun and the next futures contract settlement isn't until next month. However, I was already part of the way done, so I'll post a snapshot of the data anyway.

Below is a graph of the S&P/Case-Shiller Index for Boston from 1987 through the present (shown in purple), with the expected future values added using the current values of the futures contracts (shown in red):



Note that the volume on these contracts is currently very sparse, and so these predictions should be viewed as unreliable. However, bear in mind that other sources of predictions are most likely even less reliable, especially organizations like the NAR which have a disincentive for accuracy. The futures markets are probably the least biased predictor available, given that those trading the contracts have a direct financial incentive to be accurate (real money rides on the accuracy).

Also note that the contract values might not necessarily reflect the expected value of the index if there are unaccounted opportunity costs involved. This was discussed in some detail in the original thread when the extended futures debuted. It is my current understanding that both the buyer and seller would have the same opportunity costs (a performance bond and transaction costs), and these costs would therefore offset each other when viewing the value as predictive. This could be wrong, though. If you would like to discuss this point, please read the original thread first since there are some references there to support the assumption of symmetry.

As a snapshot for posterity, the values of the futures contracts at the close of trading today were:

  • Nov '07: 169.20
  • Feb '08: 165.80
  • May '08: 162.40
  • Aug '08: 160.00
  • Nov '08: 160.00
  • Feb '09: 157.60
  • May '09: 155.40
  • Nov '09: 151.00
  • May '10: 148.60
  • Nov '10: 148.00
  • Nov '11: 150.00

Unlike last time, the futures market actually shows an expected bottom this time, at least nominally. Previously, futures indicated declining prices as far ahead as they looked, which was November 2011. This time, November 2011 is slightly above November 2010. The increase is a slight 1.35%, which will probably be a real decline with inflation factored in, but it does lend credence to the hypothesis that prices will go sideways for awhile, at some point.

Below is a graph that illustrates the change from last time:



Using the most recent futures values and 2010 as the expected bottom, the expectation of the market is that nominal prices will have fallen 18.88% from their peak and 13.38% from the most recently reported month (August) when the bottom is reached.

The source data used for the above report was obtained from:

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john p



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 6:25 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www2.standardandpoors.com/spf/pdf/index/SPCS_MetroArea_HomePrices_Methodology.pdf

Look at pages 4-6 for methodology and look at page 28 for prices and interest rate comparison, and page 27 for affordability.

My concern about Shiller is that his index is based on sales pairs. I'm not sure how you take into account the mortgage rate affect and affordability.

What I mean is this: we know that when NAR or MAR puts out month of this year agains the corresponding month last year you get a certain percentage up or down. We know that some of these readings go up or down depending on the corresponding interest rate for the respective months. I'm saying, take this approach and apply it to the corresponding year over year mortgage rates for the sales pairs. This is difficult because Shiller's Index does a lot of filtering and weighting in their methodology, but when you look at a significant delta in interest rate i.e. early 90's you can see that if you weigh more recent sales and interest plays a big hand in the affordability, sales price deltas are more pronounced.

http://www.iaconoresearch.com/BlogImages/07-10-30b_case_shiller_index.png

My feeling is that Shiller wrote the Irrational Exhuberance book which provided a great prism to view this situation. Further, the idea of using sales pairs makes a whole lot of sense. However, I think his algorithms overstate the case or at least we read them with more weight than what they really capture. If there was truly that huge spike as his index says why wouldn't affordability spike to the same degree? See page 27

http://www2.standardandpoors.com/spf/pdf/index/SPCS_MetroArea_HomePrices_Methodology.pdf

I think Shiller's theories are spot on, but his algorithm needs refinement or more refinement of understanding of those that look at it (Including myself).
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:15 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why would tracking mortgage payments be better than tracking prices? Mortgage payments certainly set a ceiling for how high prices could be bid up, but they don't change the fundamentals of what the house is actually worth (e.g., the present discounted value of future imputed rents minus expenses). The fact that money is currently cheaper to borrow than in the past changes what can be paid, not what should be paid.

The average time that a property is owned before being resold in the US is seven years, whether by choice or by unexpected change in life situation. The ceiling set on prices by mortgage rates will undoubtedly be different seven years from now. If I were to use mortgage rates as a guide for when to buy, I would opt to buy when they are above historical norms, monthly payments being equal, because rates moving back to the norm would increase the price ceiling when resale time arrived. Buying when rates are high would also be preferable even if there was no resale since the mortgage could then be refinanced, as rates returned to their historical norm.

I hope I didn't get too far off track there, I was just thinking out loud as to why I prefer the raw prices to affordability adjustments.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:11 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just see it this way:

Between 2000- 2004, I would guess there were fewer sellers than buyers.

Because the mortgage rate was going lower more and more people could afford a certain price point.

So model this out. 20 sellers in Brookline, 40 buyers who are interested in the range of available property and can afford them due to lower interest rates. A house goes on the market and sells within a matter of days. Next house a month later sees how quickly his neighbor's house sold so he adds 5%. It sells within days.... This actually happened. You get lowering interest rate and you increase the number of potential buyers. Because rates were so low, it created a high volume of activity just because it was cheaper to get the lower cost of capital anyway. The cost of the house rose because the interest made the end mortgage payment lower. So again, if 40 people want 20 homes and can afford a certain monthly mortgage, they will bid up to that mortgage amount.

I know people during this time that were trying to get inside information on houses so they could put in an offer before they were listed.

I think if someone can stipulate this point, they can reverse engineer (project) the process to what is happening now. 40 sellers and 20 buyers with higher interest than 2 years ago and higher than what most people are currently paying.

I think you should always try to buy at the lowest possible price and then refinance when the rates lower. The problem with this theory is that you have to play the hand you are dealt and when do you think that interest rates will go above historical norms?

I think it is wise if you don't have to buy to remain in a holding pattern. I think it wouldn't hurt to low-ball in the meantime and hedge your bets.

Although Shiller's work aligns with the interest of first time buyers, economists come in and out with the tide and I wouldn't put all my stock in Shiller because if there was an algorithm that could capture the real estate market, he'd be a billionare. I think it doesn't hurt to be critical of those that align with your interest, in fact, I'd be more critical of them because you're going to let it ride on their formula. All I'm saying is that you need to kick the tires before you step on the gas with that one.

I think the fundamentals that matter are two things: the profile and number of buyers and the profile and number of sellers and location, location, location. Look at a diamond; they cost what 3 months salary. Their intrinsic value? They cost what the market can bear. Look at the price of gasoline or the price of medication. They cost what the market can bear as well.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 10:44 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Although Shiller's work aligns with the interest of first time buyers, economists come in and out with the tide and I wouldn't put all my stock in Shiller because if there was an algorithm that could capture the real estate market, he'd be a billionare.

I don't think that's the case. Shiller's index is not predictive, it's just a tool for analyzing sales that have already happened. In fact, in his book he makes a very good case that there are no good algorithms for modeling markets (at least not now) because human psychology frequently overrides fundamentals.

I guess that's another way of getting at what I was trying to express earlier. You can have markets where the human psychology pushes the price above fundamentals and makes it what the market can bear - that's what you have with your diamond example. In those cases, your only protection against price declines is maintaining the psychological status quo. On the other hand, if you buy at or below fundamentals, then price declines can still occur thanks to psychology working in the other direction, but they no longer have a guaranteed negative effect on owners because of the intrinsic value of the asset (e.g., you can rent out the house).

Quote:

I think the fundamentals that matter are two things: the profile and number of buyers and the profile and number of sellers and location, location, location.

OK, sure. Location is constant and can be factored out. The profiles of buyers and sellers should also be factored into rent prices and incomes as well. The overlap with rent is probably greater since it is a substitute good for buying. There is an upcoming Fortune Magazine article which covers the price to rent ratio for various cities. If it appears online and I don't forget about it, I'll try to figure out if I can get the rent data back a little further for Boston and compare it to prices.

Quote:

Look at a diamond; they cost what 3 months salary. Their intrinsic value? They cost what the market can bear.

They do have an intrinsic value as components in electronic and industrial equipment. They are also pleasant to look at, or so I am frequently told, and have some value for that enjoyment. No doubt their current price is largely due to psychology, though.

Quote:

Look at the price of gasoline or the price of medication. They cost what the market can bear as well.

Everything costs what the market can bear in one sense or another. That works out to be what it costs to produce, if the market is efficient and competitive. For instance, I bet the price of aspirin is pretty close to what it costs to produce and get it to you. You were probably referring to newer medications still under patent, which do come with a mark up, but that isn't an efficient market yet. When the patents expire, the generic drug makers do come in and push prices where they should be. Gas isn't a particularly efficient market given that the supply is controlled by a cartel (incidentally, that is another reason diamonds are expensive). I guess one could argue that real estate is controlled by a cartel as well.

My point is, the fundamentals set a floor for prices. In the case of housing prices, I use rents and incomes as the fundamentals, as a proxy for the profiles of buyers and sellers. Mortgage rates set a ceiling on prices. Psychology determines whether prices drift to the ceiling or the floor.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 3:01 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you're right.

http://factfinder.census.gov/ ...truncated...

http://factfinder.census.gov/ ...truncated...

http://factfinder.census.gov/ ...truncated...

http://factfinder.census.gov/ ...truncated...

Editor's Note: This post was edited to abbreviate URLs which were widening the page due to the way that the forum software lays out posts. No other changes have been made, and the URLs still point to the original destinations - only their displays have been shortened.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 7:39 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Admin said:

Quote:
My point is, the fundamentals set a floor for prices. In the case of housing prices, I use rents and incomes as the fundamentals, as a proxy for the profiles of buyers and sellers. Mortgage rates set a ceiling on prices. Psychology determines whether prices drift to the ceiling or the floor.


I have been thinking about this and want you to look at this from a certain angle and tell me what you think.

Think about the profile of renters and rental property owners. What percentage of renters can afford to buy? If everybody could afford to buy (imagine a different market) don't you think they would? Further, because rental owners have to wait for the precise time when one person goes and another comes, they are beholding to the timing a bit more. If they hold out for a renter for a few months, they might be upside down on the mortgage if they recently purchased. If you hike up rents too quickly, people will move out.

When rents skyrocketed after rent control ended, you saw lots of rental conversions to condos. So rental supply decreased, but in pace with the erosion of renters who became condo owners.

From the perspective of rental property owners, I think they look at Boston rental properties more like a growth stock than an income stock, meaning that when you talk to them, they might speak more about how their property appreciated in recent years than to evaluate it based on cash flows from rental income increases. I guess I'm more thinking smaller places than the larger places.

Lastly, after one and a half terms of a Republican Administration you should expect a separation between rich and poor (winners and losers). A sizeable portion of those that rent might be hurting right now economically because the weak dollar, the trade policy, the debt of the war, the rising cost of everything is putting them under water. If a good percentage of these folks are struggling, how would rents increase? I understand that you might have a segment of renters that could buy if they wanted to but are waiting for the prices to come down, but that smaller percentage isn't going to drive up the rental amounts that steeply.

Manhattan is still going up and up because Manhattan is like a big milking machine that sucks wealth from the entire world. Manhattan doesn't care that Detroit is hurting, they invest in India, China, etc. Financial products are global products and they don't have to be Red White and Blue to bring profit. This is why you see a separation between places like Manhattan and Detroit and between rents and home prices.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:30 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing about rental property owners, a good majority might be the types that again, are looking for the big appreciation, but also, have designs for condo conversions. Pretty much, their composition, internal value system, properties of their nature, disposition (constitution) is akin to an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur will want to spread out his investments and not tie all his money up on one property. They often time leverage one property’s equity to buy the next and to keep the train rolling. In order to keep it rolling, you need to show that the properties you are trying to borrow against are rented. Having empty units and holding out for a couple hundred dollars a month is not worth it, if they lose a couple months, but in their mind it is penny wise and dollar foolish because they want their real estate empire to grow in aggregate. Lastly, of their tenants, they want a portfolio of solid, stable renters who won’t damage the property, who are worth renting to at a small discount.

Entrepreneurs are different from parasites or slum lords. Donald Trump is an entrepreneur. He is focused on the next big thing, or I should say that he projects this. He projects success and it becomes contagious and has a gravitational pull. Donald Trump can pull this off because he can afford to fail. New York is the perfect place for him because it is loaded with people that want to play the risky game that they can’t afford to play. He waits until they get exposed too much and then takes advantage of their failures by buying properties in a down market.

Here is the rub. If an entrepreneur has his money spread out to too many positions, he won’t take the parasite’s approach because if he has less than 90 percent occupancy, he might lose money at a rate where he can’t cover his payments. Again, they focus on high occupancy so they can continue to expand the empire. They can flip properties to get cash injections to buy even more properties and expand even further. The rub is that like in sports, you sometimes need to “stay at home” meaning if you are constantly blitzing the quarterback, you are leaving your defense open for a quick pass. You need to defend your positions and can’t be all offense.

Right now, I think you have more entrepreneurs as property owners than parasitic slum lords. A slum lord does no work on a property and pushes the rent to where the market begs for mercy and then some more. I of course, prefer the spirit of an entrepreneur as it is akin to the American Spirit. However, if an entrepreneur overextends and loses their fundamental defensive positions, it creates a structural fabric that is weak and won’t be able to afford the downturn of rent amounts if affordability erodes and the market can’t sustain the rents.

If times get worse, entrepreneurs will switch to slumlord mode, temporarily raising rents. You will see more moving trucks on the road and entrepreneurs will be selling properties that they can’t cover the mortgage on and then you will see more condo conversions.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:33 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a lot of rip off artists out there in the real estate industry. Here is a classic stories that will help cultivate the street smarts to help recognize a scam:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiff_Giant

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=humbug

This humbug: PT Barnum actually had a pretty deep understanding of making money....

http://www.floraco.com/barnum/

PT Barnum had a very dialectic mind. On the one hand he knew how to fundamentally grow and through that fundamental knowledge, he understood those that wanted the easy way out. He found out that those that gambled were of the disposition that there was an easy way out where you didn't have to work hard. Those people are the ones that play the lottery, go to casinos, think that the housing market will go up and up and up and up. Laziness and fear of hopelessness create a delusion. People search for a reality that is better than the one they are living. A new discovery like the Cardiff Giant is something that makes people reshuffle the deck of how they look at things. People want the deck reshuffled if they aren't getting good hands. They want a new chance more than anything.

Guys like Donald Trump prey on people that want the easy money. He is right because the world is filled with people that want easy money. This becomes a Ponzi scheme in of itself.

Even dynamics within companies get delusional. If managers eat up all the budget on overhead and red tape, they end up spending their time creating a lousy argument that the red tape and overhead are mission critical. If they are truly delusional, they hire more managers who create more red tape and bring in outside consultants to create even more nonsense and delusion. If a delusional operation has a heartbeat, it has someone that understands the fundamentals. You ask a consultant what time it is, they ask to see your watch, they tell you the time, and then keep your watch. They find the guy that you don't listen to who has a clue and they tell you what you refused to ask or listen to.

Industries and markets operate on a certain percentage of perception and a certain amount of reality. During bubbles, like Admin mentioned, you have a greater degree of perception than reality.

The biggest danger our society has right now is when the promise of hard work and honesty don't pay off. If people fear that they will just be wasting their time working hard and being honest, they will become humbugs, self promoters and look for low percentage easy way outs. That is not a good long term strategy. My fear about casinos is that it speaks of a weaking constitution of a society. A weaker fabric that is tending towards laziness and fear of hard work and frugality. Perseverence has been a strength in Massachusetts, and when other areas tire, they look to us for strength. If the humbugs get control, if casino money pollutes our political structure it will take a long time to rebuild.

Maybe PT Barnam ripped people off because they let themselves get ripped off. If people are asking to get ripped off, he gave it to them. Despite the fact that fraud gets exposed, there are lines out the door to chase the next one.

The goal of this long blog is to get you to think of the real estate market like professional wrestling. You understand that it is not real, but this "non-real" entity somehow has a presence, a gravitational force, an electrical field that can not be denied. Understand that you need to learn by expanding your knowledge deeper and deeper into both the real and absurd.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:51 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Think about the profile of renters and rental property owners. What percentage of renters can afford to buy? If everybody could afford to buy (imagine a different market) don't you think they would?


Definitely not everybody. Hypothetically speaking, if the market were different and the long term cost to buy was exactly the same as the long term cost to rent, I do think that some people would prefer renting because it actually does have some qualitative advantages. You have much greater mobility when renting, which can be very valuable if you want to be flexible in relocating for work and don't have other factors tying you to the area. Somebody else maintains the property for you when you rent, which can be very convenient if you are frequently busy, not manually inclined, or just plain lazy. Somebody else is on the hook for the liabilities and responsibilities associated with the property when you rent.

Of course, there are plenty of benefits to owning as well, and I'm not seeking to diminish those. I am simply saying that some people might consider the benefits that come with renting to be more valuable than the benefits that come with owning and would in fact be willing to pay more to rent. Personal preferences will make the premium that people are willing to pay to buy different for everybody and even make it negative in some cases.

However, I do think that a large portion of renters would buy if they could afford it. So perhaps assuming that everybody wants to buy is a useful first order approximation.

Quote:

From the perspective of rental property owners, I think they look at Boston rental properties more like a growth stock than an income stock, meaning that when you talk to them, they might speak more about how their property appreciated in recent years than to evaluate it based on cash flows from rental income increases. I guess I'm more thinking smaller places than the larger places.


That may be what they tell themselves, but I don't think it's valid. It's the classic pyramid scheme reasoning - it's worth paying $X for this item because somebody will surely pay me > $X for it. The price isn't justified if you remove the future buyer from the equation.

Quote:

Lastly, after one and a half terms of a Republican Administration you should expect a separation between rich and poor (winners and losers). A sizeable portion of those that rent might be hurting right now economically because the weak dollar, the trade policy, the debt of the war, the rising cost of everything is putting them under water. If a good percentage of these folks are struggling, how would rents increase? I understand that you might have a segment of renters that could buy if they wanted to but are waiting for the prices to come down, but that smaller percentage isn't going to drive up the rental amounts that steeply.


I wouldn't expect rents to increase, at least not much beyond inflation. I see what you're getting at, that rents in aggregate might not reflect the improving (relatively speaking) position of the winners. However, I think that could be controlled for when comparing sale prices to rents by looking at rents for similar properties and locations.

Examining the separate strata independently certainly sounds worthwhile. To that end, did you read the announcement today that the S&P/Case-Shiller index is going to be split into low, mid, and high price tiers for trading? That sounded like it should be up your alley. I haven't seen the new contracts yet (I looked for them briefly).

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 2:33 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I'm very interested in seeing the different price strata. It is interesting that they broke it up that way. I guess Moody's does recognize small, mid and large size companies when they do their analysis but it is telling that they broke it out. It is almost like they recognize the inconsistent price movements.

Step back and ask yourself, how does an index or whatever this thing is make money. What is the model? They wouldn't do this if they couldn't make money. What is it about right now that makes them move on this?
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 3:44 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

john p wrote:

Step back and ask yourself, how does an index or whatever this thing is make money. What is the model? They wouldn't do this if they couldn't make money. What is it about right now that makes them move on this?


I am guessing that they get a cut of each contract that is traded. So, the greater the volume, the better for them. The direction and magnitude of the price movements would not be important, and they would be most interested in getting as many people as possible on both sides of the equation to hedge their positions. I hope they can improve the uptake since the volume has been anemic so far.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:12 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right now, I think you have more entrepreneurs as property owners than parasitic slum lords. A slum lord does no work on a property and pushes the rent to where the market begs for mercy and then some more. I of course, prefer the spirit of an entrepreneur as it is akin to the American Spirit.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:09 pm GMT    Post subject: Inventory- slow foreclosures Reply with quote

Here is some great data on foreclosures....or Mortgage Delinquency - Eastern Massachusetts is showing 7-13% - Delinquent Mortgages - as in People living for free in Home for some number of Months...... Policiticians and Banks will delay Foreclosures until - they can't - then again maybe this can go on longer than I can stay solvent...

http://www.foreclosure-response.org/maps_and_data/metro_delinquency_data_tables.html

The Interest thing about this Website is it is sponsored by several CDFIs - CDFIs are non-profit banks who get tax credits directly from the US Treasury, then when a Bank invest Money with a CDFI - the CDFI gives the Bank the Tax Credits and the Bank can reduce their Corporate Income Taxes - on the profits they make in the Stock Market. The US Treasury group is CDFIFUND.GOV .
http://www.foreclosure-response.org
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