Its been subtle, but there has been a change in housing market terminology over this past year. There have been several distinct segments to the trend, in terms of how what terminology is used to describe it.
Housing “Boom” [January to June]
In the first half of 2005, the media generally used the phrase “housing boom” to describe the vibrant state of the housing market. Several years of rising prices and success stories for brokers and builders seemed to fill the news.
Housing “Boom” = Housing “Bubble” [July to September]
Over the summer, during the barrage of bad news, including Katrina and Rita Hurricanes, spiking gasoline prices, worsening conditions in Iraq, political discord in Washington, growing inflation concerns and rising mortgage rates (wow, some major gloom and doom was abound) influenced the media to some sort of tipping point. Many of the articles during this period shifted from talk of a boom, with risk of a bubble, to if the bubble was going to burst.
Housing “Bubble” [October to November]
Lately, the housing discussion has firmly shifted to use of the word bubble as a key descriptor of the state of the housing market and the orientation became a matter of when the bubble will burst. This thinking seems to have its own momentum despite the significant change in many of the indicators that gave us reason for concern this summer.
For example, economic damage to the national economy from the hurricanes is now largely believed to have less significant implications. Mortgage rates have leveled off and have actually retreated lately. Gasoline prices have fallen sharply, core inflation has remained low and housing prices have not fallen.
Housing “Expansion” [December +]
Now the NAR is beginning to call the current real estate environment a housing expansion [Washington Post]  Of course, a market characterized by more balanced conditions can not be characterized as an expansion.
Suggested dramatic titles for next phase (not necessarily correlated with actual events)
Housing “Bust” [?]
Housing “Black Hole” [?]
Housing “Katrina Effect” [?]
Housing “Rebound” [?]
Housing “Explosion” [?]
UPDATE January 29, 2006