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Slow News Cycle = More Housing Coverage = More Confusion

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 [1] 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? [2]

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.