Saturday, July 08, 2006

Words of Wisdom – “From the Past”

Recently, CNBC held a town hall style “debate” between David Lereah, Chief Economist with the National Association of Realtors and Yale Professor of Economics Robert Shiller.

During the broadcast Lereah stated that if home buyers had allowed all the bubble predictions of the past prevent them from buying, they would have missed all the outstanding appreciation that has occurred in the last five years.

Certainly, you can’t argue with the overall truth of his statement, but his thinking obviously falls a bit flat when you consider that you only actually “realize” the windfall gain if you sell your home.

But more importantly, Lereah’s statement reminds one that this debate has been going of for many years now and that, given the market climate as of late, the still “fairly” bullish bulls used to sound quite a bit more bullish.

To that end, a little “Google-ing” can net you some great quotes from past interviews with some of the real estate industry’s top bulls…. Here’s just a few:

Bob Toll – CEO of Homebuilder, Toll Brothers

Jun 9, 2005

On whether he thinks there is a housing bubble…

“I don't think so. If we see an adjustment caused by something we don't envision, it's likely to be similar to the situation in the San Francisco market caused by a loss in jobs when the dot-com bubble burst. There was a rollback in home prices for a year, but then the market came back even though the jobs didn't return.”

November 24, 1999

On how would Toll Brothers fare during a down real estate market…

“Even if you do get a down cycle sooner rather than later -- which by the way we'd welcome since we think it would help the investment climate for our company because it would clear out the worry [about] when the next downturn is coming -- I don't think that the downturn can impact the stock any more than it's already been discounted. It would appear to us that we are selling as though we are at doom's door. Therefore, I don't think that a down cycle would hurt.”

David Lereah – Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors

September 4, 2004

"There is no national price bubble. Never has been; never will be," said David Lereah, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. That leaves room for local housing bubbles, but Lereah sees no sure signs of those, either.

August 26 2002

On whether home builders could hurt the market by overbuilding…

“No. That would have already happened because home builders learned lessons from the last recession, the 1990-91 recession where we really did have an oversupply of homes, the month's supply of homes was very high so thus we did have prices-- the price bubbles deflating a good deal.

This time around, the supply of homes is very, very lean. It's almost half of what it was during the 1990-91 recession, so I think home builders will not get caught with their financial pants down anytime soon and as a matter of fact when you look at housing starts and construction activity, it's lagging behind home sales activity.”

Franklin D. Raines - CEO Fannie Mae

May, 2003

"We don't think that there is a housing bubble in the country," says Raines, who points out that housing prices are higher because interest rates are lower. "And people's incomes are higher so they can afford more housing and, obviously, the owners of the house [will] try to raise the price when they're selling it."

Alan Greenspan – Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman

July, 2002

Alan Greenspan is one. Last week, Greenspan told Congress there is no such thing as a current or impending house price bubble.

"We’ve looked at the bubble question, and we’ve concluded that it is most unlikely," he said. Greenspan attributes recent "sizable gains" in home prices to "the effects on demand of low mortgage rates, immigration and shortages of buildable land."

David Seiders – Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders

July, 2002

"The time has come to put this issue to rest," said NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. “The nation's home builders have said it, the Realtors have said it, and now Alan Greenspan has said it once again, in no uncertain terms: there is no such thing as a current or impending house price bubble."

In a Joint Statement from:

David Berson of Fannie Mae,
David Lereah of the National Association of Realtors,
Paul Merski of the Independent Community Bankers of America,
Frank Nothaft of Freddie Mac,
David Seiders of the National Association of Homebuilders.

May, 2004

"The likelihood of a decline in home prices at the national level is quite remote. Even at a local level, demand-supply conditions today are such that there are few, if any, markets that exhibit bubble characteristics,"