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For the last several years, real estate has been in a pricing bubble. Prices have been substantially higher than historical relationships to incomes and rents would justify. While prices have started to decline, they are still abnormally high compared to these core fundamentals. This website is focused on analyzing the housing bubble, its aftermath, and real estate in general as it pertains to the Greater Boston Area.
 
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Boston-Specific Info

  • Boston Futures: For Greater Boston real estate prices from 1987 through the present and looking several years into the future, see the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Boston snapshot with futures (both before and after inflation). The futures markets are probably the most unbiased predictor of where housing prices are headed.
  • Price/Income: For a gauge of how overpriced the market is, see the latest report on the Greater Boston price to income ratio.
  • Inflation Adjusted: See the latest report on Massachusetts single family home prices for prices as typically reported by the local media but adjusted for inflation.
  • Price/Rent: Comparing prices to rents can help illuminate an overpriced market since many hypothetical justifications for higher home prices should raise rents as well. See the latest report on the Boston MSA price to rent ratio.
  • The population of the Greater Boston Area was declining as the housing market posted its most exceptional gains during the bubble. One of the fallacious arguments which was used to contest the existence of a housing bubble was that a growing population was pushing up the natural price of property. While that argument is flawed in general, it is especially wrong when the population is declining. [Boston Globe] [Boston Bubble]
  • The Wall Street Journal has identified Boston as one of the metropolitan areas in the US where it is cheaper to rent than to buy. Their data goes from 2001, when it was already cheaper to rent, to 2004 when the difference was even more pronounced. The Economist also published an article showing that renting is cheaper, and although it does not focus on Boston, it is very thorough about including various expenses and tax benefits that the Wall Street Journal left out. [Wall Street Journal] [The Economist]
  • Consumer Reports has rated real estate in the Boston market as "Overpriced" and pegged it at 24% over the affordable price as of Q4 2004. [Consumer Reports]
  • The number of homes sold in Massachusetts has been plummeting. For the third quarter of 2006 (the most recently reported quarter as of this writing), home sales have fallen 23% compared with the same quarter one year earlier. This despite the fact that home sales were already on the decline in 2005. [Worcester Telegram] [WCVB] [Milford Daily News]
  • Foreclosures are rising sharply in Greater Boston and Massachusetts. There were more foreclosures in the first nine months of 2006 than in all of 2005, and as of this writing (in November 2006), Massachusetts is on track to break the all time record in 2006. [Boston Globe] [Lowell Sun]
  • Boston and Massachusetts are the typical exceptions that people use to qualify their statements when they say that real estate prices don't fall. Boston and Massachusetts prices have fallen in the past, even in nominal terms (when adjusted for inflation, the fall is even more pronounced). Bear in mind that even if prices decline merely by the same percent that they have in the past, the leverage (a.k.a., margin or mortgage) used to purchase the homes must be taken into consideration - the substantially higher number of zero down and negative amortization loans will leave a lot of people with heavy losses and negative equity. [BusinessWeek] [Wall Street Journal (sub)]
  • To compensate for property that fails to sell, real estate agents in Boston are falling back on the deceptive practice of canceling the listing in MLS and then creating a new listing so that the property appears as new to the market. There were 10,606 MLS cancellations in the first six months of 2005, up from 9,722 cancellations in the first six months of 2004 and 3,736 in 2001. "The number of canceled listings in Massachusetts has nearly tripled since 2001... In a recent spot check of houses for sale on MLS in Middlesex County, Barry Nystedt, president of the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents, said one in four listings canceled between May 25 and June 25 was recreated by the same firm with a new MLS number." [Boston Globe]
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National (US) Info

  • Visit Patrick Killelea's housing crash blog. It is a fantastic resource providing ample quantitative background into the housing bubble.
  • Visit the Wikipedia article on the United States housing bubble for another excellent overview of the bubble on a national scale.
  • It is actually now cheaper to rent than to buy in many areas even after you factor in accumulated equity and tax savings. [The Economist]
  • Yale professor Robert J. Shiller released the first edition of his prophetic book warning of a stock market bubble weeks before the stock market began its epic crash in 2000. He recently released an updated second edition in late February, 2005 with similar warnings of froth in the real estate market. This book is very highly recommended and is quite readable despite the complexity of the subject. [Irrational Exuberance] [Amazon.com]
  • The current nationwide housing boom has been fueled in large part by historically low interest rates and an increase in the use of risky mortgages. Buyers may find that their monthly payments will skyrocket once the introductory period of their mortgage ends and the adjustable rate kicks in. In 2005, only $83 billion, or 1 percent, of mortgage debt will switch to an adjustable rate. In 2007, this number will leap to $1 trillion, or about 12 percent. [Herald Tribune]
>>> Discuss the national and worldwide housing bubbles now!
 

Boston Bubble News & Interesting Links

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2007-11-30
Info/Broken? - Boston Bubble Brief: The Real Story for MA - Oct 2007. Real YOY prices down 6.17% (MAR) or 9.38% (Warren Group). Lowest October on record, with widest margin below 2003 yet.
Discuss - Boston Bubble Brief: The Real Story for MA - Oct 2007. Real YOY prices down 6.17% (MAR) or 9.38% (Warren Group). Lowest October on record, with widest margin below 2003 yet.
Boston Bubble Brief: The Real Story for MA - Oct 2007. Real YOY prices down 6.17% (MAR) or 9.38% (Warren Group). Lowest October on record, with widest margin below 2003 yet.
2007-11-30
Info/Broken? - Condo markdown - With condo prices in a slump and some big projects unsold, buyers are calling the shots
Discuss - Condo markdown - With condo prices in a slump and some big projects unsold, buyers are calling the shots
Condo markdown - With condo prices in a slump and some big projects unsold, buyers are calling the shots
2007-11-29
Info/Broken? - OFHEO: Q3 price declines were steepest in CA, MA, MI, NV and RI
Discuss - OFHEO: Q3 price declines were steepest in CA, MA, MI, NV and RI
OFHEO: Q3 price declines were steepest in CA, MA, MI, NV and RI
2007-11-29
Info/Broken? - Mass. home sales drop sharply in October: Norfolk, Plymouth counties fare worse than state average
Discuss - Mass. home sales drop sharply in October: Norfolk, Plymouth counties fare worse than state average
Mass. home sales drop sharply in October: Norfolk, Plymouth counties fare worse than state average
2007-11-29
Info/Broken? - US home sales hit new low, prices drop - Biggest year-over-year plunge in home prices can't revive housing market as sales pace falls to record low
Discuss - US home sales hit new low, prices drop - Biggest year-over-year plunge in home prices can't revive housing market as sales pace falls to record low
US home sales hit new low, prices drop - Biggest year-over-year plunge in home prices can't revive housing market as sales pace falls to record low
2007-11-28
Info/Broken? - S&P/Case-Shiller Boston Snapshot Q3 2007 - Includes graph of futures through 2011
Discuss - S&P/Case-Shiller Boston Snapshot Q3 2007 - Includes graph of futures through 2011
S&P/Case-Shiller Boston Snapshot Q3 2007 - Includes graph of futures through 2011
2007-11-28
Info/Broken? - Job-growth study: Mass. next to last
Discuss - Job-growth study: Mass. next to last
Job-growth study: Mass. next to last
2007-11-28
Info/Broken? - Crashachusetts Existing Home Sales: October 2007
Discuss - Crashachusetts Existing Home Sales: October 2007
Crashachusetts Existing Home Sales: October 2007
2007-11-28
Info/Broken? - Lowell Foreclosure Maps
Discuss - Lowell Foreclosure Maps
Lowell Foreclosure Maps
2007-11-28
Info/Broken? - MA home prices fall below $300,000 mark
Discuss - MA home prices fall below $300,000 mark
MA home prices fall below $300,000 mark
2007-11-27
Info/Broken? - MAR on Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: MA sales fall 11%, nominal prices down 3.2%
Discuss - MAR on Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: MA sales fall 11%, nominal prices down 3.2%
MAR on Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: MA sales fall 11%, nominal prices down 3.2%
2007-11-27
Info/Broken? - Warren Group on Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: Massachusetts Home Sales Fall Dramatically - sales down 17.1%, nominal prices down 6.5%
Discuss - Warren Group on Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: Massachusetts Home Sales Fall Dramatically - sales down 17.1%, nominal prices down 6.5%
Warren Group on Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: Massachusetts Home Sales Fall Dramatically - sales down 17.1%, nominal prices down 6.5%
2007-11-27
Info/Broken? - Buying isn't always the smartest option
Discuss - Buying isn't always the smartest option
Buying isn't always the smartest option
2007-11-27
Info/Broken? - S&P/Case-Shiller Sep 2007: Boston down 3.2% nominally over Sep 2006
Discuss - S&P/Case-Shiller Sep 2007: Boston down 3.2% nominally over Sep 2006
S&P/Case-Shiller Sep 2007: Boston down 3.2% nominally over Sep 2006
2007-11-27
Info/Broken? - The Arlington Artifice: October 2007
Discuss - The Arlington Artifice: October 2007
The Arlington Artifice: October 2007
2007-11-26
Info/Broken? - Finance crunch hits home - Fenway project cuts apartments
Discuss - Finance crunch hits home - Fenway project cuts apartments
Finance crunch hits home - Fenway project cuts apartments
2007-11-25
Info/Broken? - Central MA Losses: 2,673 and rising - Foreclosures mean trouble
Discuss - Central MA Losses: 2,673 and rising - Foreclosures mean trouble
Central MA Losses: 2,673 and rising - Foreclosures mean trouble
2007-11-23
Info/Broken? - Foreclosure shocker - Worst month since '90s
Discuss - Foreclosure shocker - Worst month since '90s
Foreclosure shocker - Worst month since '90s
2007-11-23
Info/Broken? - Refinancing programs omit many borrowers - 9 states, including MA, have collectively refinanced less than 100 people
Discuss - Refinancing programs omit many borrowers - 9 states, including MA, have collectively refinanced less than 100 people
Refinancing programs omit many borrowers - 9 states, including MA, have collectively refinanced less than 100 people
2007-11-23
Info/Broken? - Massachusetts rents reverse negative trend with average increase of $40 in Boston & suburbs
Discuss - Massachusetts rents reverse negative trend with average increase of $40 in Boston & suburbs
Massachusetts rents reverse negative trend with average increase of $40 in Boston & suburbs
2007-11-22
Info/Broken? - Foreclosure aid OK'd - Aim: Keep owners in homes, educate buyers
Discuss - Foreclosure aid OK'd - Aim: Keep owners in homes, educate buyers
Foreclosure aid OK'd - Aim: Keep owners in homes, educate buyers
2007-11-21
Info/Broken? - Bottom line for home buyers is price - and not much else matters
Discuss - Bottom line for home buyers is price - and not much else matters
Bottom line for home buyers is price - and not much else matters
2007-11-21
Info/Broken? - Foreclosures in Mass. surge to 6,258 this year, triple same period last year
Discuss - Foreclosures in Mass. surge to 6,258 this year, triple same period last year
Foreclosures in Mass. surge to 6,258 this year, triple same period last year
2007-11-20
Info/Broken? - Housing Market's Stench Means Cut Price to Sell - Over half of Boston's listings have reduced price, inventory at 42,000
Discuss - Housing Market's Stench Means Cut Price to Sell - Over half of Boston's listings have reduced price, inventory at 42,000
Housing Market's Stench Means Cut Price to Sell - Over half of Boston's listings have reduced price, inventory at 42,000
2007-11-20
Info/Broken? - Foreclosure Deeds in Mass. Down From Month Before in Sept., But Record Number of Petitions in August Signal More Trouble Ahead, According to The Warren Group
Discuss - Foreclosure Deeds in Mass. Down From Month Before in Sept., But Record Number of Petitions in August Signal More Trouble Ahead, According to The Warren Group
Foreclosure Deeds in Mass. Down From Month Before in Sept., But Record Number of Petitions in August Signal More Trouble Ahead, According to The Warren Group
2007-11-18
Info/Broken? - Worcester County's market withers - Few Bay State towns illustrate the housing bubble's bursting as vividly as Southborough and its neighbors
Discuss - Worcester County's market withers - Few Bay State towns illustrate the housing bubble's bursting as vividly as Southborough and its neighbors
Worcester County's market withers - Few Bay State towns illustrate the housing bubble's bursting as vividly as Southborough and its neighbors
2007-11-16
Info/Broken? - Bay State employers cut about 3,000 jobs in October: Largest monthly decline in payroll positions in two years
Discuss - Bay State employers cut about 3,000 jobs in October: Largest monthly decline in payroll positions in two years
Bay State employers cut about 3,000 jobs in October: Largest monthly decline in payroll positions in two years
2007-11-16
Info/Broken? - REDC auctioneer expects to return in '08 - Foreclosures likely to mount by May
Discuss - REDC auctioneer expects to return in '08 - Foreclosures likely to mount by May
REDC auctioneer expects to return in '08 - Foreclosures likely to mount by May
2007-11-15
Info/Broken? - Live tweets from NAR convention in Vegas - Boston agent at convention accepting questions for the NAR via Twitter
Discuss - Live tweets from NAR convention in Vegas - Boston agent at convention accepting questions for the NAR via Twitter
Live tweets from NAR convention in Vegas - Boston agent at convention accepting questions for the NAR via Twitter
2007-11-15
Info/Broken? - Amazing Foreclosure Decision - "might throw the mortgage industry into (much deserved) chaos"
Discuss - Amazing Foreclosure Decision - "might throw the mortgage industry into (much deserved) chaos"
Amazing Foreclosure Decision - "might throw the mortgage industry into (much deserved) chaos"
2007-11-15
Info/Broken? - RealtyTrac Inc. national foreclosure rankings of 100 metros: Worcester 32, Springfield 37, Essex 39, Boston/Quincy 48
Discuss - RealtyTrac Inc. national foreclosure rankings of 100 metros: Worcester 32, Springfield 37, Essex 39, Boston/Quincy 48
RealtyTrac Inc. national foreclosure rankings of 100 metros: Worcester 32, Springfield 37, Essex 39, Boston/Quincy 48
2007-11-15
Info/Broken? - Real Estate Slump May Spur Domino Effect - Town Officials See Little Relief In Future
Discuss - Real Estate Slump May Spur Domino Effect - Town Officials See Little Relief In Future
Real Estate Slump May Spur Domino Effect - Town Officials See Little Relief In Future
2007-11-14
Info/Broken? - NAR "forecast" for 2007 revised down yet again. Largest downward revision yet, even though 2007 was mostly over when they made their last "forecast."  Nice graph showing history of "forecasts" along with choice quotes form each period.
Discuss - NAR "forecast" for 2007 revised down yet again. Largest downward revision yet, even though 2007 was mostly over when they made their last "forecast."  Nice graph showing history of "forecasts" along with choice quotes form each period.
NAR "forecast" for 2007 revised down yet again. Largest downward revision yet, even though 2007 was mostly over when they made their last "forecast." Nice graph showing history of "forecasts" along with choice quotes form each period.
2007-11-14
Info/Broken? - Housing slump not over - Bay State prices likely to plunge 5% more by middle of 2008
Discuss - Housing slump not over - Bay State prices likely to plunge 5% more by middle of 2008
Housing slump not over - Bay State prices likely to plunge 5% more by middle of 2008
2007-11-14
Info/Broken? - Boston delinquencies soar 146%
Discuss - Boston delinquencies soar 146%
Boston delinquencies soar 146%
2007-11-13
Info/Broken? - MA AG mortgage regulations delayed until Jan 2
Discuss - MA AG mortgage regulations delayed until Jan 2
MA AG mortgage regulations delayed until Jan 2
2007-11-13
Info/Broken? - Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Lehman Brothers, et al. threatening to pull out of wholesale mortgage-lending market in Massachusetts
Discuss - Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Lehman Brothers, et al. threatening to pull out of wholesale mortgage-lending market in Massachusetts
Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Lehman Brothers, et al. threatening to pull out of wholesale mortgage-lending market in Massachusetts
2007-11-13
Info/Broken? - New home appreciation calculator and forecaster for Boston (and other metros) using S&P/Case-Shiller Index and futures market
Discuss - New home appreciation calculator and forecaster for Boston (and other metros) using S&P/Case-Shiller Index and futures market
New home appreciation calculator and forecaster for Boston (and other metros) using S&P/Case-Shiller Index and futures market
2007-11-13
Info/Broken? - New report sees R.I. house prices falling through '09
Discuss - New report sees R.I. house prices falling through '09
New report sees R.I. house prices falling through '09
2007-11-13
Info/Broken? - Eroding second-home market throws Vermont economy off balance
Discuss - Eroding second-home market throws Vermont economy off balance
Eroding second-home market throws Vermont economy off balance
2007-11-12
Info/Broken? - Thoughts on this weekend's REDC auction at Hynes
Discuss - Thoughts on this weekend's REDC auction at Hynes
Thoughts on this weekend's REDC auction at Hynes
2007-11-09
Info/Broken? - Updated S&P/Case-Shiller charting tool for Boston and elsewhere, now with low, mid, and high price segments and expanded historical reach
Discuss - Updated S&P/Case-Shiller charting tool for Boston and elsewhere, now with low, mid, and high price segments and expanded historical reach
Updated S&P/Case-Shiller charting tool for Boston and elsewhere, now with low, mid, and high price segments and expanded historical reach
2007-11-09
Info/Broken? - New regulations for MA mortgage brokers to go into effect next Thursday.  Are complaints that this will be a "fatal blow" exaggerated?
Discuss - New regulations for MA mortgage brokers to go into effect next Thursday.  Are complaints that this will be a "fatal blow" exaggerated?
New regulations for MA mortgage brokers to go into effect next Thursday. Are complaints that this will be a "fatal blow" exaggerated?
2007-11-09
Info/Broken? - 20/20 video on how sellers can't sell, ostensibly because of the market. However, further investigation (not from 20/20) reveals sellers holding out for large profit.
Discuss - 20/20 video on how sellers can't sell, ostensibly because of the market. However, further investigation (not from 20/20) reveals sellers holding out for large profit.
20/20 video on how sellers can't sell, ostensibly because of the market. However, further investigation (not from 20/20) reveals sellers holding out for large profit.
2007-11-09
Info/Broken? - Mortgage website gone after aid agency complains - MassHousing calls address of referral service misleading
Discuss - Mortgage website gone after aid agency complains - MassHousing calls address of referral service misleading
Mortgage website gone after aid agency complains - MassHousing calls address of referral service misleading
2007-11-08
Info/Broken? - S&P/Case-Shiller low-, mid-, high price tiers now available for trading (PDF)
Discuss - S&P/Case-Shiller low-, mid-, high price tiers now available for trading (PDF)
S&P/Case-Shiller low-, mid-, high price tiers now available for trading (PDF)
2007-11-08
Info/Broken? - Fortune Magazine predicts 5% drop in Boston prices over next 5 years.  An analysis of prices vs rents in 54 metro areas.
Discuss - Fortune Magazine predicts 5% drop in Boston prices over next 5 years.  An analysis of prices vs rents in 54 metro areas.
Fortune Magazine predicts 5% drop in Boston prices over next 5 years. An analysis of prices vs rents in 54 metro areas.
2007-11-08
Info/Broken? - Price is (not) right: Appraisals now sink sales
Discuss - Price is (not) right: Appraisals now sink sales
Price is (not) right: Appraisals now sink sales
2007-11-08
Info/Broken? - Lenders slam mortgage regulations - Critics say state plan will hurt consumers
Discuss - Lenders slam mortgage regulations - Critics say state plan will hurt consumers
Lenders slam mortgage regulations - Critics say state plan will hurt consumers
2007-11-08
Info/Broken? - The Injustice of "Doing Something" about Subprime - Massachusetts bailout plan criticized, along with bailouts in general
Discuss - The Injustice of "Doing Something" about Subprime - Massachusetts bailout plan criticized, along with bailouts in general
The Injustice of "Doing Something" about Subprime - Massachusetts bailout plan criticized, along with bailouts in general
2007-11-07
Info/Broken? - National Association of Realtors President still can't sell own home after 2+ years and 11% in price reductions
Discuss - National Association of Realtors President still can't sell own home after 2+ years and 11% in price reductions
National Association of Realtors President still can't sell own home after 2+ years and 11% in price reductions
2007-11-06
Info/Broken? - New Campaign, Old Scam - NAR ad in Boston and national papers criticized
Discuss - New Campaign, Old Scam - NAR ad in Boston and national papers criticized
New Campaign, Old Scam - NAR ad in Boston and national papers criticized
2007-11-06
Info/Broken? - Downturn takes toll in Worcester, Mass.
Discuss - Downturn takes toll in Worcester, Mass.
Downturn takes toll in Worcester, Mass.
2007-11-05
Info/Broken? - Subprime bailouts: Chump check - Responsible loan payers are crying foul about the breaks that delinquent borrowers are getting.
Discuss - Subprime bailouts: Chump check - Responsible loan payers are crying foul about the breaks that delinquent borrowers are getting.
Subprime bailouts: Chump check - Responsible loan payers are crying foul about the breaks that delinquent borrowers are getting.
2007-11-05
Info/Broken? - Cape real estate values fall back - Nominal median down 7.6% from Oct 2006 - Oct 2007
Discuss - Cape real estate values fall back - Nominal median down 7.6% from Oct 2006 - Oct 2007
Cape real estate values fall back - Nominal median down 7.6% from Oct 2006 - Oct 2007
2007-11-04
Info/Broken? - Revisiting the housing market's boom-to-bust cycles - Last bust, Boston took a decade to recover, just in nominal terms
Discuss - Revisiting the housing market's boom-to-bust cycles - Last bust, Boston took a decade to recover, just in nominal terms
Revisiting the housing market's boom-to-bust cycles - Last bust, Boston took a decade to recover, just in nominal terms
2007-11-02
Info/Broken? - National Association of Realtors predicts Greater Boston home prices to rise as much as 10.8% in 2008
Discuss - National Association of Realtors predicts Greater Boston home prices to rise as much as 10.8% in 2008
National Association of Realtors predicts Greater Boston home prices to rise as much as 10.8% in 2008
2007-11-02
Info/Broken? - Report: State economy starting to slow - growth now slightly lower than nation's
Discuss - Report: State economy starting to slow - growth now slightly lower than nation's
Report: State economy starting to slow - growth now slightly lower than nation's
2007-11-01
Info/Broken? - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds Stats Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: Deeds down 1%, mortgages down 33%, foreclosures up 125%
Discuss - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds Stats Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: Deeds down 1%, mortgages down 33%, foreclosures up 125%
Middlesex North Registry of Deeds Stats Oct 2007 vs Oct 2006: Deeds down 1%, mortgages down 33%, foreclosures up 125%
2007-11-01
Info/Broken? - NorthPoint's feuding owners selling project to Archon for $175M+
Discuss - NorthPoint's feuding owners selling project to Archon for $175M+
NorthPoint's feuding owners selling project to Archon for $175M+

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