Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lereah Mea Culpa?

A recently released PowerPoint presentation entitled “Reality Check” is probably as close to an admission of personal error that you’re going to get from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist David Lereah.

Apparently, first presented by Lereah at the NAR Leadership Summit on the 17th and 18th of August, this arrangement of slides seems to cover virtually every point that would be made to support the premise of a bursting housing bubble.

Of course, Lereah falls short of declaring a bursting bubble, instead favoring his “soft landing” position; yet, the presentation seems to depict about as accurate and stark a picture as could have been penned by the most enthusiastic bubble blogger.

Although not a total capitulation, this must be, at the very least, an indication that the data supporting a collapsing housing market has reached such a crescendo that even the most passionate real estate bulls can no longer continue to spin an optimistic picture.

Additionally, on a more ironic note, take a close look at the background of the PowerPoint slides… what to you see. Bubbles! Bubbles and more bubbles! Seems Lereah has a sense of humor after all.

Some points covered in the slides:

  1. Boom is over
  2. Homebuyer confidence has plunged
  3. Buyers Market
  4. Home sales plummet, prices lagging
  5. High percentage of “exotic” loans
  6. Days on the market increasing
  7. Residential construction slowing
  8. Condo depreciation – Especially significant in West and South
  9. Inventory at “all time” high
  10. High debt burdens unhealthy
  11. Incomes detached from home prices
  12. Unsustainable metro home prices
  13. Mortgage obligation to income out of whack, even worrisome particularly in San Diego and Miami
  14. Surging level of ARM loans, over 60% in the West, over 20% nationally
  15. Prices expected to fall