With the dog days of summer wrapping up (my kids start school today), I looked back over the month of August and concluded that the housing market coverage seemed to be over blown relative to what change actually occurred, especially in the last few weeks.

As a simple test, I used Nielsen’s BuzzPulse to search on the word “housing” and sure enough, we have a spike in “housing” discussion. This of course doesn’t capture big media’s coverage but since quite often blog content is an off-shoot of big media content, my gut seems to be right.

In other words, while the housing market has weakened nationally, the media coverage of the weakening conditions seemed currently seems disproportionate. This happened last year at this time as well, when including the word “bubble” was an automatic heavy does of eyeballs on the article. This is not in any way to suggest that housing is not experiencing difficulties.

Nationally, inventory is rising, demand is falling, appreciation is waning, yet nothing significant or new really new happened this summer other than the fact that mortgage rates have fallen since July.

Mathew Hougan of Index Universe concludes just the opposite in his article Worse Than It Seems?

The housing market feels like its falling apart. The newspapers are full of stories about falling prices and rising inventories. Where I live, “price reduced” signs are popping up, and some houses have been on the market for more than a year.

Yet housing statistics are more rosy than his first hand experience. He cites a quirk in statistics of seller concessions or incentives that is not captured in sales prices that may be the cause national stats to appear better than they really are.

Here’s the problem with all of this. Local impressions may or may not correlate with national statistics.

Real estate is local.

Last year at this time we had the hurricane devastation. At least this year, thankfully, so far we don’t.


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2 Responses to “Slow News Cycle = More Housing Coverage = More Confusion”

  1. It's about the economy says:

    The spike in media coverage reflects an overall anxed about the economy – and housing is an easy way to contextualize things. Housing experienced an amazing growth that nobody can really explain, and is expected to experience a significant reduction that nobody can really size.

    The economy is in a similar state. All indicators say that we’ve got harder times coming, but nobody really knows how much harder and for how long. In many markets, there’s currently such a wide gap between buyers and seller that there really is NO housing market to speak of; and that standstill is seen as a bellweather for the rest of the economy. It’s like watching a showdown: where housing goes (trend wise) the economy will follow.

  2. ed in texas says:

    The only thing that could turn the media coverage right now would be if hurricane JonBennet were to devastate Miami.