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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]
>>> Discuss the Boston bubble now!
 

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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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2010-03-31
Info/Broken? - MA SFH Median Feb 2010 vs 2009 - Warren Group: up 8.4% (nominal); MAR: up 7.7% (nominal)
Discuss - MA SFH Median Feb 2010 vs 2009 - Warren Group: up 8.4% (nominal); MAR: up 7.7% (nominal)
MA SFH Median Feb 2010 vs 2009 - Warren Group: up 8.4% (nominal); MAR: up 7.7% (nominal)
2010-03-31
Info/Broken? - The Depreciating American Dream, Part 3: Two Renting Couples, No Regrets
Discuss - The Depreciating American Dream, Part 3: Two Renting Couples, No Regrets
The Depreciating American Dream, Part 3: Two Renting Couples, No Regrets
2010-03-31
Info/Broken? - Boston Case-Shiller Index Up 1.5% YOY (nominal) in January
Discuss - Boston Case-Shiller Index Up 1.5% YOY (nominal) in January
Boston Case-Shiller Index Up 1.5% YOY (nominal) in January
2010-03-30
Info/Broken? - Boom Bust Graph Comparing US Cities
Discuss - Boom Bust Graph Comparing US Cities
Boom Bust Graph Comparing US Cities
2010-03-30
Info/Broken? - The Depreciating American Dream, Part 2: Doubting The Suburban Fantasy
Discuss - The Depreciating American Dream, Part 2: Doubting The Suburban Fantasy
The Depreciating American Dream, Part 2: Doubting The Suburban Fantasy
2010-03-30
Info/Broken? - The Depreciating American Dream, Part 1: Homebuyer's Remorse
Discuss - The Depreciating American Dream, Part 1: Homebuyer's Remorse
The Depreciating American Dream, Part 1: Homebuyer's Remorse
2010-03-30
Info/Broken? - Spurt of Home Buying as End of Tax Credit Looms (once again)
Discuss - Spurt of Home Buying as End of Tax Credit Looms (once again)
Spurt of Home Buying as End of Tax Credit Looms (once again)
2010-03-29
Info/Broken? - NAR spent $5.6M lobbying in 2009 Q4, leading to massive handout
Discuss - NAR spent $5.6M lobbying in 2009 Q4, leading to massive handout
NAR spent $5.6M lobbying in 2009 Q4, leading to massive handout
2010-03-29
Info/Broken? - Experts expect mortgage rates to climb
Discuss - Experts expect mortgage rates to climb
Experts expect mortgage rates to climb
2010-03-29
Info/Broken? - March statistics to-date show RE slow down, except for foreclosures, at Middlesex North Registry of Deeds
Discuss - March statistics to-date show RE slow down, except for foreclosures, at Middlesex North Registry of Deeds
March statistics to-date show RE slow down, except for foreclosures, at Middlesex North Registry of Deeds
2010-03-29
Info/Broken? - Lower Home Prices Can Fix What Government Can't
Discuss - Lower Home Prices Can Fix What Government Can't
Lower Home Prices Can Fix What Government Can't
2010-03-29
Info/Broken? - More government encouragement of irresponsible behavior
Discuss - More government encouragement of irresponsible behavior
More government encouragement of irresponsible behavior
2010-03-26
Info/Broken? - Mass. housing rebound elusive, data say
Discuss - Mass. housing rebound elusive, data say
Mass. housing rebound elusive, data say
2010-03-26
Info/Broken? - US to order lenders to cut mortgage payments for the jobless
Discuss - US to order lenders to cut mortgage payments for the jobless
US to order lenders to cut mortgage payments for the jobless
2010-03-25
Info/Broken? - Bank of America still pitching risky mortgages
Discuss - Bank of America still pitching risky mortgages
Bank of America still pitching risky mortgages
2010-03-25
Info/Broken? - Bank of America to reduce principal for thousands of borrowers
Discuss - Bank of America to reduce principal for thousands of borrowers
Bank of America to reduce principal for thousands of borrowers
2010-03-24
Info/Broken? - Analysts: Mortgages rates to stay low after Fed exits, say bond firms
Discuss - Analysts: Mortgages rates to stay low after Fed exits, say bond firms
Analysts: Mortgages rates to stay low after Fed exits, say bond firms
2010-03-24
Info/Broken? - Moody's: Recession has ended in Mass.
Discuss - Moody's: Recession has ended in Mass.
Moody's: Recession has ended in Mass.
2010-03-23
Info/Broken? - Northeast home sales post 13% YOY increase, low end still dominating
Discuss - Northeast home sales post 13% YOY increase, low end still dominating
Northeast home sales post 13% YOY increase, low end still dominating
2010-03-23
Info/Broken? - Geithner: Keep public role in housing finance
Discuss - Geithner: Keep public role in housing finance
Geithner: Keep public role in housing finance
2010-03-23
Info/Broken? - Return of the housing froth - April 30th deadline fabricates false urgency
Discuss - Return of the housing froth - April 30th deadline fabricates false urgency
Return of the housing froth - April 30th deadline fabricates false urgency
2010-03-23
Info/Broken? - Fort Pointless - Foreclosures a setback for neighborhood
Discuss - Fort Pointless - Foreclosures a setback for neighborhood
Fort Pointless - Foreclosures a setback for neighborhood
2010-03-22
Info/Broken? - New Plan to Reshape Mortgage Market
Discuss - New Plan to Reshape Mortgage Market
New Plan to Reshape Mortgage Market
2010-03-22
Info/Broken? - Mass. Market: Use of controversial housing law has plunged
Discuss - Mass. Market: Use of controversial housing law has plunged
Mass. Market: Use of controversial housing law has plunged
2010-03-22
Info/Broken? - In Boston, a Lender Steps in After Foreclosures
Discuss - In Boston, a Lender Steps in After Foreclosures
In Boston, a Lender Steps in After Foreclosures
2010-03-17
Info/Broken? - US mortgage demand tepid even as loan rates sink
Discuss - US mortgage demand tepid even as loan rates sink
US mortgage demand tepid even as loan rates sink
2010-03-16
Info/Broken? - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds corroborates concerns of more foreclosures and shadow inventory
Discuss - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds corroborates concerns of more foreclosures and shadow inventory
Middlesex North Registry of Deeds corroborates concerns of more foreclosures and shadow inventory
2010-03-15
Info/Broken? - Jobs program lost its way - and tax money
Discuss - Jobs program lost its way - and tax money
Jobs program lost its way - and tax money
2010-03-12
Info/Broken? - Lower vacancy rates set to hike Hub-area rents
Discuss - Lower vacancy rates set to hike Hub-area rents
Lower vacancy rates set to hike Hub-area rents
2010-03-12
Info/Broken? - REDC Boston auction Mar 27
Discuss - REDC Boston auction Mar 27
REDC Boston auction Mar 27
2010-03-11
Info/Broken? - MA Housing Partnership: Around 64,000 distressed properties could trigger second wave of foreclosures
Discuss - MA Housing Partnership: Around 64,000 distressed properties could trigger second wave of foreclosures
MA Housing Partnership: Around 64,000 distressed properties could trigger second wave of foreclosures
2010-03-11
Info/Broken? - Mass. Pike project crashes - Developer leaves mess, quits $800M Columbus Center plan
Discuss - Mass. Pike project crashes - Developer leaves mess, quits $800M Columbus Center plan
Mass. Pike project crashes - Developer leaves mess, quits $800M Columbus Center plan
2010-03-11
Info/Broken? - Councilman Ross: Boston's high property prices directly caused by college students
Discuss - Councilman Ross: Boston's high property prices directly caused by college students
Councilman Ross: Boston's high property prices directly caused by college students
2010-03-11
Info/Broken? - Dean Baker: Recession caused by housing bubble, not by a financial crisis
Discuss - Dean Baker: Recession caused by housing bubble, not by a financial crisis
Dean Baker: Recession caused by housing bubble, not by a financial crisis
2010-03-11
Info/Broken? - Brockton group to pressure Bank of America to address foreclosures
Discuss - Brockton group to pressure Bank of America to address foreclosures
Brockton group to pressure Bank of America to address foreclosures
2010-03-10
Info/Broken? - Lynn council orders derelict homes razed
Discuss - Lynn council orders derelict homes razed
Lynn council orders derelict homes razed
2010-03-10
Info/Broken? - Brockton activist takes foreclosure woes to Bernanke
Discuss - Brockton activist takes foreclosure woes to Bernanke
Brockton activist takes foreclosure woes to Bernanke
2010-03-10
Info/Broken? - Even The Rich Can Be Dumb About Money
Discuss - Even The Rich Can Be Dumb About Money
Even The Rich Can Be Dumb About Money
2010-03-10
Info/Broken? - Massachusetts Bond Rating Remains Strong
Discuss - Massachusetts Bond Rating Remains Strong
Massachusetts Bond Rating Remains Strong
2010-03-09
Info/Broken? - Sinking Ships - Unemployment in MA vs. RI, January 2010
Discuss - Sinking Ships - Unemployment in MA vs. RI, January 2010
Sinking Ships - Unemployment in MA vs. RI, January 2010
2010-03-08
Info/Broken? - Barney Frank: "I shouldn't be a homeowner"
Discuss - Barney Frank: "I shouldn't be a homeowner"
Barney Frank: "I shouldn't be a homeowner"
2010-03-08
Info/Broken? - MA Costs of Living for Single Parent with Two Children Hit $61,618 a Year
Discuss - MA Costs of Living for Single Parent with Two Children Hit $61,618 a Year
MA Costs of Living for Single Parent with Two Children Hit $61,618 a Year
2010-03-08
Info/Broken? - Shiller: bias toward home ownership "has a great deal to do with culture, and little to do with financial wisdom"
Discuss - Shiller: bias toward home ownership "has a great deal to do with culture, and little to do with financial wisdom"
Shiller: bias toward home ownership "has a great deal to do with culture, and little to do with financial wisdom"
2010-03-08
Info/Broken? - Dim Prospects For What Was Once America's Greatest Export Success Story
Discuss - Dim Prospects For What Was Once America's Greatest Export Success Story
Dim Prospects For What Was Once America's Greatest Export Success Story
2010-03-05
Info/Broken? - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds: Globe optimism on January foreclosures unfounded
Discuss - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds: Globe optimism on January foreclosures unfounded
Middlesex North Registry of Deeds: Globe optimism on January foreclosures unfounded
2010-03-05
Info/Broken? - Mass. jobless rate at 34-year high
Discuss - Mass. jobless rate at 34-year high
Mass. jobless rate at 34-year high
2010-03-05
Info/Broken? - US sales of previously owned homes fall
Discuss - US sales of previously owned homes fall
US sales of previously owned homes fall
2010-03-04
Info/Broken? - No bidders for Beacon Hill home
Discuss - No bidders for Beacon Hill home
No bidders for Beacon Hill home
2010-03-04
Info/Broken? - Ben Bernanke to meet with Brockton housing activist
Discuss - Ben Bernanke to meet with Brockton housing activist
Ben Bernanke to meet with Brockton housing activist
2010-03-04
Info/Broken? - Cambridge residents plan for Lechmere's future
Discuss - Cambridge residents plan for Lechmere's future
Cambridge residents plan for Lechmere's future
2010-03-04
Info/Broken? - Survey shows improving economy in Boston area
Discuss - Survey shows improving economy in Boston area
Survey shows improving economy in Boston area
2010-03-03
Info/Broken? - First Ever Auction of Beacon Hill Home, Today
Discuss - First Ever Auction of Beacon Hill Home, Today
First Ever Auction of Beacon Hill Home, Today
2010-03-03
Info/Broken? - Gov. Patrick: Commonwealth on the road to recovery for employment
Discuss - Gov. Patrick: Commonwealth on the road to recovery for employment
Gov. Patrick: Commonwealth on the road to recovery for employment
2010-03-03
Info/Broken? - Pace of foreclosures may be slowing in Mass.
Discuss - Pace of foreclosures may be slowing in Mass.
Pace of foreclosures may be slowing in Mass.
2010-03-02
Info/Broken? - Foreclosures rose 8.5% in Mass. in Jan.
Discuss - Foreclosures rose 8.5% in Mass. in Jan.
Foreclosures rose 8.5% in Mass. in Jan.
2010-03-02
Info/Broken? - Interactive map showing changing town-by-town home values in Massachusetts
Discuss - Interactive map showing changing town-by-town home values in Massachusetts
Interactive map showing changing town-by-town home values in Massachusetts
2010-03-02
Info/Broken? - Why Fannie and Freddie should be euthanized - While Citi and BoA got $45B, Fannie and Freddie will take $389B
Discuss - Why Fannie and Freddie should be euthanized - While Citi and BoA got $45B, Fannie and Freddie will take $389B
Why Fannie and Freddie should be euthanized - While Citi and BoA got $45B, Fannie and Freddie will take $389B
2010-03-02
Info/Broken? - Updated - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, Feb 2010 vs Feb 2009: Deeds up 16%, foreclosure deeds up 54%, orders of notice up 573%
Discuss - Updated - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, Feb 2010 vs Feb 2009: Deeds up 16%, foreclosure deeds up 54%, orders of notice up 573%
Updated - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, Feb 2010 vs Feb 2009: Deeds up 16%, foreclosure deeds up 54%, orders of notice up 573%
2010-03-01
Info/Broken? - Foreclosure crisis hits affluent towns - Number of petitions to seize homes spikes in Norfolk, Middlesex counties
Discuss - Foreclosure crisis hits affluent towns - Number of petitions to seize homes spikes in Norfolk, Middlesex counties
Foreclosure crisis hits affluent towns - Number of petitions to seize homes spikes in Norfolk, Middlesex counties
2010-03-01
Info/Broken? - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, Feb 2010 vs Feb 2009: Deeds down 7%, foreclosure deeds up 13%, orders of notice up 436%
Discuss - Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, Feb 2010 vs Feb 2009: Deeds down 7%, foreclosure deeds up 13%, orders of notice up 436%
Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, Feb 2010 vs Feb 2009: Deeds down 7%, foreclosure deeds up 13%, orders of notice up 436%
2010-03-01
Info/Broken? - Beantown Bust: Boston Home Sales and Prices January 2010
Discuss - Beantown Bust: Boston Home Sales and Prices January 2010
Beantown Bust: Boston Home Sales and Prices January 2010
2010-03-01
Info/Broken? - Homeowners Say Banks Keep Them Underwater by Spurning Loan Program Rules
Discuss - Homeowners Say Banks Keep Them Underwater by Spurning Loan Program Rules
Homeowners Say Banks Keep Them Underwater by Spurning Loan Program Rules
2010-03-01
Info/Broken? - Buffet says real estate slump to end in about 2011, prices to remain "far below 'bubble' levels"
Discuss - Buffet says real estate slump to end in about 2011, prices to remain "far below 'bubble' levels"
Buffet says real estate slump to end in about 2011, prices to remain "far below 'bubble' levels"

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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
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2005               41 28 18 17 23

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