House prices continue in free-fall.
In the past year the median sales price fell 13.2% — the largest decline since data collection began in 1968 and likely since the Great Depression — to $181,300. Separately, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that U.S. home prices fell 7.5% over the 12 months ending in October, according to a monthly index that includes prices for houses with mortgages that have been sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae… (or Freddie Mac.)
At The Big Picture, Barry Ritholtz observes:
I find the monthly spin from the NAR laughable. They attribute November’s results to a “weak stock market, job losses and low consumer confidence.” They never seem to recall that Real Estate prices remain too high relative to incomes and rental prices. This is the hangover from the credit bubble.
With the always necessary caveat that there are individual real estate agents and builders who are honest, stand-up individuals, the house building and selling industry bears a huge portion of the blame for this hellish economic mess. It strains credulity to think that the absurd loans and absurd prices came about without widespread criminality and malfeasance.
True capitalists will realize that effective regulation is required in the future. Of course, that won’t stop the stink tank denizens from railing against all things governmental, but I still fail to understand why progressives have to be the only pragmatists.
There needs to be a dramatic change in the zeitgeist in this state and country that defines conservatives in terms of their outdated, delusional and dangerous preconceptions about economics. It’s kind of sunk in, but not widely enough. Neo-liberalism was not only wrong, it failed so miserably that I wouldn’t be surprised if historians someday equate it with the demise of Soviet Communism.
The bidness guys and gals have sneered at everyone for so long, with such utter contempt, that this is the perfect time to teach certain corrupt industries that the government is there to protect all the people, including consumers of major purchases like houses. I mean, you buy a car you get a warranty, you buy a house, well, you know, good luck with that! You should have known the plumbing contractor hired summer help and inspected each pipe yourself before you bought it, and you should have waited out the housing bubble even though you like, needed a place to live.
When the corrupt industry starts its facile whining that they are being “punished” and promise doom and gloom forever, as they do with any proposed regulation whatsoever, they can be sternly reminded that basic consumer rights are not a punishment, they are a normal way to regulate industries that have proven they can’t be trusted. And right now there is no industry more untrustworthy than the house building, selling and finance industry. If restoring the house market requires restoring consumer confidence, reform at both the state and national level is urgently required, seeing as we’re throwing trillions of our dollars at the problem.