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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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2008-07-31
Info/Broken? - State economy lags behind country's
Discuss - State economy lags behind country's
State economy lags behind country's
2008-07-31
Info/Broken? - States where foreclosures account for high percentage of sales: MA 24%, RI 22%, CT 27%
Discuss - States where foreclosures account for high percentage of sales: MA 24%, RI 22%, CT 27%
States where foreclosures account for high percentage of sales: MA 24%, RI 22%, CT 27%
2008-07-31
Info/Broken? - Growth in MA foreclosures sees a slowdown in June
Discuss - Growth in MA foreclosures sees a slowdown in June
Growth in MA foreclosures sees a slowdown in June
2008-07-31
Info/Broken? - Housing bailout contains $7500 tax credit (loan?) for first-time buyers
Discuss - Housing bailout contains $7500 tax credit (loan?) for first-time buyers
Housing bailout contains $7500 tax credit (loan?) for first-time buyers
2008-07-30
Info/Broken? - Bush signs sweeping housing bill, despite past promise of veto
Discuss - Bush signs sweeping housing bill, despite past promise of veto
Bush signs sweeping housing bill, despite past promise of veto
2008-07-30
Info/Broken? - Crashachusetts Existing Home Sales and Prices: June 2008 - Peak season now over
Discuss - Crashachusetts Existing Home Sales and Prices: June 2008 - Peak season now over
Crashachusetts Existing Home Sales and Prices: June 2008 - Peak season now over
2008-07-30
Info/Broken? - Interested in meeting for a Bubble Hour?
Discuss - Interested in meeting for a Bubble Hour?
Interested in meeting for a Bubble Hour?
2008-07-29
Info/Broken? - S&P/Case-Shiller Boston Index May 2008 vs May 2007 (PDF): Boston nominal prices down 6.2%, 20 city composite down record 15.8%
Discuss - S&P/Case-Shiller Boston Index May 2008 vs May 2007 (PDF): Boston nominal prices down 6.2%, 20 city composite down record 15.8%
S&P/Case-Shiller Boston Index May 2008 vs May 2007 (PDF): Boston nominal prices down 6.2%, 20 city composite down record 15.8%
2008-07-29
Info/Broken? - 3 bills in MA Legislature to fight foreclosures - one would ban (some) foreclosures for another 6 months
Discuss - 3 bills in MA Legislature to fight foreclosures - one would ban (some) foreclosures for another 6 months
3 bills in MA Legislature to fight foreclosures - one would ban (some) foreclosures for another 6 months
2008-07-29
Info/Broken? - MA home sales dwindle even as prices plunge
Discuss - MA home sales dwindle even as prices plunge
MA home sales dwindle even as prices plunge
2008-07-29
Info/Broken? - Mass. housing market getting softer - Timothy Warren: "What's clear from these numbers is we haven't reached the bottom of the market yet"
Discuss - Mass. housing market getting softer - Timothy Warren: "What's clear from these numbers is we haven't reached the bottom of the market yet"
Mass. housing market getting softer - Timothy Warren: "What's clear from these numbers is we haven't reached the bottom of the market yet"
2008-07-28
Info/Broken? - Warren Group on Jun 2008: slowest in more than 15 years, median SFH price down 8.6% YOY in nominal terms
Discuss - Warren Group on Jun 2008: slowest in more than 15 years, median SFH price down 8.6% YOY in nominal terms
Warren Group on Jun 2008: slowest in more than 15 years, median SFH price down 8.6% YOY in nominal terms
2008-07-27
Info/Broken? - MA SFH median posts 8.0% nominal decline in June 2008 vs June 2007, sales down 14.9%
Discuss - MA SFH median posts 8.0% nominal decline in June 2008 vs June 2007, sales down 14.9%
MA SFH median posts 8.0% nominal decline in June 2008 vs June 2007, sales down 14.9%
2008-07-25
Info/Broken? - Wave of new Mass. unemployment filings mirrors U.S.
Discuss - Wave of new Mass. unemployment filings mirrors U.S.
Wave of new Mass. unemployment filings mirrors U.S.
2008-07-25
Info/Broken? - Letter to Editor: Frank is wrong man for the job
Discuss - Letter to Editor: Frank is wrong man for the job
Letter to Editor: Frank is wrong man for the job
2008-07-25
Info/Broken? - Video making the case against housing (bank) bailout
Discuss - Video making the case against housing (bank) bailout
Video making the case against housing (bank) bailout
2008-07-24
Info/Broken? - US home sales post larger than expected decline
Discuss - US home sales post larger than expected decline
US home sales post larger than expected decline
2008-07-24
Info/Broken? - Fearing sale of house, Taunton woman kills herself before foreclosure auction
Discuss - Fearing sale of house, Taunton woman kills herself before foreclosure auction
Fearing sale of house, Taunton woman kills herself before foreclosure auction
2008-07-24
Info/Broken? - House OKs rescue ostensibly for homeowners, Freddie, Fannie (banks and lenders possibly biggest beneficiaries)
Discuss - House OKs rescue ostensibly for homeowners, Freddie, Fannie (banks and lenders possibly biggest beneficiaries)
House OKs rescue ostensibly for homeowners, Freddie, Fannie (banks and lenders possibly biggest beneficiaries)
2008-07-23
Info/Broken? - Lawmakers reach deal on Fannie, Freddie rescue - Frank says House could vote today
Discuss - Lawmakers reach deal on Fannie, Freddie rescue - Frank says House could vote today
Lawmakers reach deal on Fannie, Freddie rescue - Frank says House could vote today
2008-07-23
Info/Broken? - Overflow from foreclosures - "Silent victims" are surrendered when life crisis hits
Discuss - Overflow from foreclosures - "Silent victims" are surrendered when life crisis hits
Overflow from foreclosures - "Silent victims" are surrendered when life crisis hits
2008-07-23
Info/Broken? - Pond View auction postponed
Discuss - Pond View auction postponed
Pond View auction postponed
2008-07-22
Info/Broken? - New England Inflation Adjusted Real Estate Prices: Boston, Providence, and Portland
Discuss - New England Inflation Adjusted Real Estate Prices: Boston, Providence, and Portland
New England Inflation Adjusted Real Estate Prices: Boston, Providence, and Portland
2008-07-21
Info/Broken? - Million Dollar Markdowns coming to a neighborhood near you?
Discuss - Million Dollar Markdowns coming to a neighborhood near you?
Million Dollar Markdowns coming to a neighborhood near you?
2008-07-21
Info/Broken? - Massachusetts Foreclosures Continue in Holding Pattern as New Regulations Take Effect
Discuss - Massachusetts Foreclosures Continue in Holding Pattern as New Regulations Take Effect
Massachusetts Foreclosures Continue in Holding Pattern as New Regulations Take Effect
2008-07-20
Info/Broken? - Feds too much in the house - Critics say U.S. too involved in home programs
Discuss - Feds too much in the house - Critics say U.S. too involved in home programs
Feds too much in the house - Critics say U.S. too involved in home programs
2008-07-18
Info/Broken? - Daily Show video on Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, etc.
Discuss - Daily Show video on Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, etc.
Daily Show video on Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, etc.
2008-07-18
Info/Broken? - Mass. jobless rate rises to 5.2% - National malaise pushes state number to highest in 4 years
Discuss - Mass. jobless rate rises to 5.2% - National malaise pushes state number to highest in 4 years
Mass. jobless rate rises to 5.2% - National malaise pushes state number to highest in 4 years
2008-07-18
Info/Broken? - Another Successful Eviction Blockade for Boston's "Working Class Housing Movement"
Discuss - Another Successful Eviction Blockade for Boston's "Working Class Housing Movement"
Another Successful Eviction Blockade for Boston's "Working Class Housing Movement"
2008-07-17
Info/Broken? - Price/rent ratio for Boston still high - 20.5 in Q1 2008 vs 16.2 in Q1 2000 (peaked at 24.8)
Discuss - Price/rent ratio for Boston still high - 20.5 in Q1 2008 vs 16.2 in Q1 2000 (peaked at 24.8)
Price/rent ratio for Boston still high - 20.5 in Q1 2008 vs 16.2 in Q1 2000 (peaked at 24.8)
2008-07-17
Info/Broken? - Op-Ed: Bank unduly scapegoated - Activists gather in Roxbury for newest civil right: the right to skip your mortgage payments
Discuss - Op-Ed: Bank unduly scapegoated - Activists gather in Roxbury for newest civil right: the right to skip your mortgage payments
Op-Ed: Bank unduly scapegoated - Activists gather in Roxbury for newest civil right: the right to skip your mortgage payments
2008-07-16
Info/Broken? - Cambridge: 1 in 3 single family homes selling below assessed value
Discuss - Cambridge: 1 in 3 single family homes selling below assessed value
Cambridge: 1 in 3 single family homes selling below assessed value
2008-07-16
Info/Broken? - Confessions of a subprime lender: 3 bad loans
Discuss - Confessions of a subprime lender: 3 bad loans
Confessions of a subprime lender: 3 bad loans
2008-07-15
Info/Broken? - Loan woes eroding confidence - State's slumping housing market could get worse before it gets better
Discuss - Loan woes eroding confidence - State's slumping housing market could get worse before it gets better
Loan woes eroding confidence - State's slumping housing market could get worse before it gets better
2008-07-15
Info/Broken? - Barron's: Wrong on Housing - Assessment of current problems in US housing market
Discuss - Barron's: Wrong on Housing - Assessment of current problems in US housing market
Barron's: Wrong on Housing - Assessment of current problems in US housing market
2008-07-14
Info/Broken? - Barney Frank, MA Rep and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, analysis used to shape bailout policy proven faulty
Discuss - Barney Frank, MA Rep and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, analysis used to shape bailout policy proven faulty
Barney Frank, MA Rep and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, analysis used to shape bailout policy proven faulty
2008-07-14
Info/Broken? - Recession-Plagued Nation Demands New Bubble To Invest In (Satire)
Discuss - Recession-Plagued Nation Demands New Bubble To Invest In (Satire)
Recession-Plagued Nation Demands New Bubble To Invest In (Satire)
2008-07-14
Info/Broken? - Barney Frank voices support for Fannie/Freddie bailout
Discuss - Barney Frank voices support for Fannie/Freddie bailout
Barney Frank voices support for Fannie/Freddie bailout
2008-07-13
Info/Broken? - Feds plan to rescue Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac
Discuss - Feds plan to rescue Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac
Feds plan to rescue Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac
2008-07-11
Info/Broken? - Barney Frank's promise of no bailout for Fannie and Freddie looks increasingly likely to be broken
Discuss - Barney Frank's promise of no bailout for Fannie and Freddie looks increasingly likely to be broken
Barney Frank's promise of no bailout for Fannie and Freddie looks increasingly likely to be broken
2008-07-10
Info/Broken? - Newton liens placed on homes by tax collector up 5%
Discuss - Newton liens placed on homes by tax collector up 5%
Newton liens placed on homes by tax collector up 5%
2008-07-10
Info/Broken? - MA foreclosure filings down 3% YOY in June, probably due to lag from law increasing waiting time
Discuss - MA foreclosure filings down 3% YOY in June, probably due to lag from law increasing waiting time
MA foreclosure filings down 3% YOY in June, probably due to lag from law increasing waiting time
2008-07-09
Info/Broken? - NARcasting The Future: July 2008
Discuss - NARcasting The Future: July 2008
NARcasting The Future: July 2008
2008-07-09
Info/Broken? - Fantasy Real Estate Game
Discuss - Fantasy Real Estate Game
Fantasy Real Estate Game
2008-07-08
Info/Broken? - Bubble Hour topic: Money magazine forecast 10.5% decline, SF home prices in Boston by May 2009
Discuss - Bubble Hour topic: Money magazine forecast 10.5% decline, SF home prices in Boston by May 2009
Bubble Hour topic: Money magazine forecast 10.5% decline, SF home prices in Boston by May 2009
2008-07-08
Info/Broken? - Radar Logic, April 2008: Boston area nominal price per square foot down 12.1% YOY (PDF)
Discuss - Radar Logic, April 2008: Boston area nominal price per square foot down 12.1% YOY (PDF)
Radar Logic, April 2008: Boston area nominal price per square foot down 12.1% YOY (PDF)
2008-07-08
Info/Broken? - Renting still cheaper than buying in Boston area
Discuss - Renting still cheaper than buying in Boston area
Renting still cheaper than buying in Boston area
2008-07-08
Info/Broken? - Mortgage lender bailout delayed with calls to investigate Dodd complicity
Discuss - Mortgage lender bailout delayed with calls to investigate Dodd complicity
Mortgage lender bailout delayed with calls to investigate Dodd complicity
2008-07-07
Info/Broken? - State officials going full bore to boost 2010 Census tally
Discuss - State officials going full bore to boost 2010 Census tally
State officials going full bore to boost 2010 Census tally
2008-07-04
Info/Broken? -  The Arlington Artifice: May 2008 - Lowest year-to-date sales since 1991
Discuss -  The Arlington Artifice: May 2008 - Lowest year-to-date sales since 1991
The Arlington Artifice: May 2008 - Lowest year-to-date sales since 1991
2008-07-04
Info/Broken? - Organizing real estate rebels, educating home buyers & sellers
Discuss - Organizing real estate rebels, educating home buyers & sellers
Organizing real estate rebels, educating home buyers & sellers
2008-07-04
Info/Broken? - Arsons flare in U.S. mortgage crisis - Examples from Mass.
Discuss - Arsons flare in U.S. mortgage crisis - Examples from Mass.
Arsons flare in U.S. mortgage crisis - Examples from Mass.
2008-07-02
Info/Broken? - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds Half-Year Statistics: Deeds down 21%, mortgages down 25%, foreclosures up 76%
Discuss - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds Half-Year Statistics: Deeds down 21%, mortgages down 25%, foreclosures up 76%
Middlesex North Registry of Deeds Half-Year Statistics: Deeds down 21%, mortgages down 25%, foreclosures up 76%
2008-07-02
Info/Broken? - Conn. nominal home prices fall by more than 10 percent
Discuss - Conn. nominal home prices fall by more than 10 percent
Conn. nominal home prices fall by more than 10 percent
2008-07-01
Info/Broken? - Driving Down Real Estate - Will higher commuting costs kill the suburbs?
Discuss - Driving Down Real Estate - Will higher commuting costs kill the suburbs?
Driving Down Real Estate - Will higher commuting costs kill the suburbs?
2008-07-01
Info/Broken? - Gov. Patrick to unveil $20M Neighborhood Stabilization Loan Fund
Discuss - Gov. Patrick to unveil $20M Neighborhood Stabilization Loan Fund
Gov. Patrick to unveil $20M Neighborhood Stabilization Loan Fund

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2011 38 46 45 44 38 45 41 33 21 22 26 31
2010 51 40 63 63 42 48 45 42 40 52 36 43
2009 52 52 59 63 56 37 53 50 52 68 56 54
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2007 63 36 85 60 55 45 62 59 52 76 60 60
2006 24 19 40 46 59 45 34 42 44 50 57 49
2005               41 28 18 17 23

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