What Housing Bubble?

The reality is this: There is no housing bubble in this country. Our strong housing market is a function of myriad factors with real economic underpinnings: low interest rates, local job growth, the emotional attachment one has for one’s home, one’s view of one’s future earning- power, and parental contributions, all have done their part to contribute to rising home prices. Over the past quarter-century, there has been an explosion of second-home purchases, a continued influx of immigrants, and a significant reduction in existing housing inventory through tear-downs. Not all of these trends are accurately reflected in the unending stream of data published daily. Home prices on average have risen at a 6% annual pace since 1999, and 13% over the past year.
What we do have is a serious housing shortage and housing affordability crisis. Despite robust construction, unsold inventory stands at four months, well below its 25-year average. Private builders complain they can’t get land permitted to meet demand. Low-income housing advocates complain housing prices are out of reach for many Americans, and that government subsidies have been slashed.
From today’s WSJ.

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I do disagree with this –

Myth #3. Speculators are Driving Home Prices: The media today is chock-full of stories of day-trading dot-com refugees who have found their calling buying homes and condos “on spec,” with the hope of flipping the property for a higher price. Earlier this month, one Wall Street analyst published an article with the catchy headline: “Investors Gone Wild: An Analysis of Real Estate Speculation.” Scary stuff. Here, again, some common-sense thinking is in order. In Manhattan, where I live, friends buy apartments kicking and screaming, convinced they top-ticked the housing market. Is Manhattan special? Are speculators flipping Palm Beach mansions? Bay Area three-bedroom homes? Newton, Mass., Tudor homes? I don’t think so. Yet these markets are experiencing the same price appreciation as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Florida, where real estate investors are supposedly driving prices higher.
The Charlottesville/Central VA market has a lot of speculative buyers who are taking out second mortgages on their primary residences, home equity lines, etc. Should rates rise and they stop buying, our market very likely will see a decrease in the rapid appreciation in home values – not an altogether bad thing.

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