Trouble ahead for the housing market

CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images

Our good friend John Rubino over at DollarCollapse.com just released an analysis titled US Housing Bubble Enters Stage Two: Suddenly Motivated Sellers.

He reminds us that housing bubbles follow a predictable progression:

  • Stage One: Mania -- Prices rise at an accelerating rate as factors like excess central bank liquidity/loose credit/hot foreign money drive a virtuous bidding cycle well above sustainably afforable levels.
  • Stage Two: Peak -- Increasingly jittery owners attempt to sell out before the party ends. Supply jumps as prices stagnate.
  • Stage Three: Bust -- As inventory builds, sellers start having to lower prices. This begins a vicious cycle: buyers go on strike not wanting to catch a falling knife, causing sellers to drop prices further.

Rubino cites recent statistics that may indicate the US national housing market is finally entering Stage Two after a rip-roaring decade of recovery since the bursting of the 2007 housing bubble:

  • The supply of homes for sale during the "all important" spring market rose at 3x last year's rate;
  • 30 of America's 100 largest cities now have more inventory than they did a year ago, and
  • Mortgage applications for new homes dropped 9% YoY.

Taken together, these suggest that residential housing supply is increasing as sales slow, exactly what you'd expect to see in the transition from Stage One to Stage Two.

If that's indeed what's happening, Rubino warns the following comes next:

Stage Two's deluge of supply sets the table for US housing bubble Stage Three by soaking up the remaining demand and changing the tenor of the market. Deals get done at the asking price instead of way above, then at a little below, then a lot below. Instead of being snapped up the day they're listed, houses begin to languish on the market for weeks, then months. Would-be sellers, who have already mentally cashed their monster peak-bubble-price checks, start to panic. They cut their asking prices preemptively, trying to get ahead of the decline, which causes “comps" to plunge, forcing subsequent sellers to cut even further.
Sales volumes contract, mortgage bankers and realtors get laid off. Then the last year's (in retrospect) really crappy mortgages start defaulting, the mortgage-backed bonds that contain their paper plunge in price, et voila, we're back in 2008.

Rubino's article is timely, as we've lately been seeing a proliferation of signs that the global boom in housing is suddenly cooling. I've also recently encountered similar evidence that the housing market in my own pocket of Northern California is weakening, and I'm curious to learn if other PeakProsperity.com readers are seeing the same in their hometowns.

The Global Housing Bubble

Housing, as they accurately say, is local. Conditions differ from region to region, making generalizations of the overall market difficult.

That said, the tsunami of $trillions printed by the world's central banking cartel since 2008 clearly found its way into the housing market.

The world real estate market is HUGE, over $200 trillion. That dwarfs the global debt and equity markets. So it's no surprise the central authorities did all they could to reverse the losses the GFC created for property owners.

As a result, many of the most popular locations to live are now clearly in bubble territory when it comes to home prices:

UBS map of global housing bubbles

The chart above displays the most bubblicious major cities around the world in red. But it's important to note that the merely 'overvalued' markets denoted in yellow, and even some of the green 'fair-valued' ones, are still wildly-unaffordable for the average resident.

For example, in "yellow" San Francisco, where the median home now costs $1.6 million, prices are well-above the excesses seen during the previous housing bubble:

And in 'fair-valued' New York City, the median household must spend 65% of its annual income on housing alone.

Is it any wonder that 70% of millennials who don't yet own a home fear they'll never be able to afford one?

Signs Galore Of Topping Markets

At the end of a speculative bubble, it's the assets that are most overvalued that correct first and correct hardest.

So we would expect that as the highest-priced real estate markets fare from here, the general real estate market will follow.

When we take a closer look at what's currently going on with the red-hot real estate markets noted in the chart above, we indeed see evidence supportive of Rubino's claim that the decade-long Stage One mania may now be ending.

Here's a spate of recent headlines about these cities:

Sure looks like Rubino's predicted Stage Two symptoms of rising supply and stagnating prices.

Local Signs, Too

As mentioned, I live in Northern California, quite close to Santa Rosa.

Things here aren't as nuts as they are in San Franscico; but it's still a moderately-affluent region with lots of second homes. It's one of the semi-frothy areas I'd expect to see cooling off in first should there be a downwards turn in macroeconomic conditions.

Located less than an hour north of San Francisco, residential housing prices here have roughly increased 2x over the past six years as the Bay Area has boomed. Supply has been in chronic shortage, exacerbated by the loss of thousands of structures burned during last October's destructive Tubbs fire.

But recently, for the first time in many years, realtors here are beginning to talk of a softening they're seeing in the local housing market.

Median sale prices dropped from May to June, which is counter to previous years. And several towns are seeing year-over-year declines in median price -- something unheard of over the past 7 years.

Meanwhile, the days-on-market ratio for properties is beginning to creep up.

Of the greatest concern to the realtors in my area: bidding wars are no longer happening. Houses are selling either at or below asking prices now. That's a *big* development in a market where houses have routinely sold for $50-100K+ above the listing price.

In a similar vein, I'm hearing evidence of the softening rents down in San Franscico and the East Bay (Oakland/Berkeley). Wolf Richter has done a good job chronicalling the substantial volume of newly-constructed units that have recently hit the market threatening to depress rents, and I've heard from a multi-family unit owner down there how landlords in the area are now finding their rents ~$500 too high for the market to bear.

This is all early and anecdotal data. It's too little at this point to claim definitively that my local housing market has entered Stage Two.

But I'm curious to hear from other PeakProsperity.com readers. What are you observing in your local markets? Are you seeing similar signs of concern?

Please share any insights you have in the Comments section below. Collectively, we may be able to add clarity, in one direction or another, to Rubino's hypothesis.

Prepping For Stage Two

Whatever the timing, Stage Two is an inevitability for today's ridiculously-overpriced real estate markets. It's not a matter of if it (as well as Stage Three) arrives, but when.

Given the data above, I think Rubino is correct in his assessment. Or at least, correct enough that prudent action is warranted today.

This makes even greater sense when considered along with the current trends of rising interest rates and quantitative tightening. Remember, home prices and interest rates have a mathematically inverse relationship: as rates go up, home prices must go down (all else being equal). And as central banks start withdrawing in earnest the excess liquidity that inflated property values to their current nose-bleed heights, expect further downward pressure on prices.

To drive the urgeny home even harder, we haven't even yet talked about the damage an economic recession and/or a painful correction in the financial markets would wreak on the real estate market. With the current expansion cycle the second-longest on record and our all-time-high markets looking increasingly vulnerable, it seems very unlikely we'll avoid at least one of those crises in the near to mid-future.

Here are worthwhile steps we recommend at this point:

  • Consider selling: If you're a homeowner and are not committed to remaining in your property for the next decade+, do some scenario planning. If prices fell 20%, how much of a financial and emotional impact would that have on you? If you have substantial equity gains in your home, Stage Two is the time to protect them. If you have little equity right now, make sure you're fully aware of the repercussions you'll face should you find yourself underwater on your property. What will your options be should you lose your job in the next recession? Whether to hold, or sell now and rent, is a weighty decision; and the rationale differs for each household -- so we strongly recommend making it with the guidance of your professional financial advisor.
  • Raise cash: The vicious cycle that begins as Stage Two transitions into Stage Three is deflationary. Lower prices beget lower prices. During this period, cash is king. By sitting on it, your purchasing power increases the farther home prices drop. And when the dust settles, you'll be positioned to take advantage of the resulting values in the real estate market. We've written at length about the wisdom of this strategy given current market conditions, as well as how, while waiting for lower prices, you can get 30x the return on your cash savings than your bank is willing to pay you, with lower risk. Our recent report on the topic is a must-read.
  • Educate yourself: Yes, real estate is overpriced in a number of markets. But it has been and will remain one of the best ways available to the non-elites to amass income and tangible wealth. And as mentioned, when the next Stage 3 brings prices down, there will be value to be had -- potentially extreme value. If you aren't already an experienced real estate investor, now is the time to educate yourself; so that you'll be positioned to take informed action when the time to buy arises. Our recent podcast interview on Real Estate Investing 101 is a good place to start.

In Part 2: The Case For Starting To Build A (Small) Short Position, we conduct a similar analysis into the overvaluation and growing vulnerability of the financial markets (which are highly likely to correct much faster, sooner and more violently than the housing market), including the details on a recent short position we've started building.

The tranquil "free ride" the financial and housing markets have had for nearly a decade are ending. The string of easy gains with little effort are over now that the central bank money spigots are turning off at the same time the "greater fools" pocketbooks are tapping out.

For a brief time, prices will waiver, as investors remain in denial and refuse to sell at lower prices. But soon that denial will turn to panic, and prices will plummet.

Make sure you're positioned prudently before then.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

Blaze TV hosts Glenn Beck , Chad Prather, and Steven Crowder weighed-in with similar but different thoughts on the fascism associated with canceling Dr. Seuss.

Glenn Beck can't help but wonder, "What is wrong with us?" in light of the Dr. Seuss books that have been cancelled due to "hurtful and wrong" illustrations — that takes America one step closer to complete insanity.

Chad Prather approached the issue from a comedic perspective, stating that "Dr. Seuss is dead and could not be reached for comment."

Steven Crowder explained that Dr. Seuss books were banned for being offensive and insensitive to some. So Steven decided to parody the six banned children's books with progressively titled and hilariously inappropriate versions.

Read the full story from TheBlaze News here.

'We DON'T destroy books'

"They are banning Dr. Seuss books. How much more do you need to see before all of America wakes up? ... This is fascism!" Glenn said. "We don't destroy books. What is wrong with us, America?" - Glenn Beck. Download the podcast here.

Chad Prather's comedic take on why Dr. Seuss got canceled

"Dr. Seuss is dead and could not be reached for comment'"- Chad Prather. Download the podcast here.

Dr. Seuss BANNING Bonanza! New Progressive Book Titles Revealed! 

In this 7+1 segment-- Crowder uncovers, new, unreleased Dr. Seuss titles that will be released in the near future (parody). Download the podcast here.

Use promo code BLAZE to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

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"What's your climate credit score?" That's a question Americans may have to answer if the green global elites get their way.

While the media has distracted us with Orange Man Bad! and Russia, Russia, Russia!, the Left has been busy working on the fundamental transformation of America with a primary pressure point — YOUR money through YOUR bank. Democrats, forgetting the words of MLK, like to group people into categories. They judge you based on what skin color you have, your religion, occupation, your ideology, and now … your carbon footprint.

On his Wednesday night TV special this week, Glenn Beck exposes how they're now planning, not only to categorize you, but to give you a score. It'll determine everything for you: whether you can buy a home, get a new car, open a business … EVERYTHING. And if you don't bend the knee? You'll be blacklisted. But this isn't some far-off conspiracy theory. Multiple big U.S. banks are part of a private U.S. financial group enacting these policies now. It's here, and we're ALL at risk.

Watch the full episode below:

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Unlike the mainstream media, we at the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" decided to actually do the research and get to the bottom of CPAC's controversial stage design, which many on the Left have suggested was purposefully shaped like an obscure Nazi symbol. We got our answers straight from the source — and it's not what the media is suggesting.

American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp joined Glenn on Wednesday to share the real story of the stage design, who designed it, and why he's taking legal options against those smearing the Conservative Political Action Conference's name seriously.

Matt told Glenn he'd never heard of the alleged Nazi insignia, noting that even a staff member who "studied anti-Semitism in college" did not recognize the obscure symbol. He went on to explain how the stage designing firm, Design Foundry, and Hyatt Hotels worked collaboratively with CPAC event organizers for months throughout the designing and construction of the stage. However, when pressured by the cancel culture mob on social media, both companies "ran for the tall grass."

"Both the Hyatt and [Design Foundry] looked to CPAC and said [they] had nothing to do with this stage. That's outrageous," Matt stated. "This whole process takes months ... everybody saw this. Everybody had to figure out how to construct this. Everybody had eyes on it from every angle. And nobody in that process ever raised their hand and said, 'Oh, you know, I took a European history class, and I noticed [that the stage design looked like a Nazi symbol.] Nobody."

Matt went on to add that, while CPAC expects attacks from the Left, they also have every intention of standing up for themselves, the conservative community, the Jewish community, and all the people who love America.

"We're fine with taking the hits. We always take the hits, it's part of being a prominent conservative group. We'll take the hits, but we won't let people lie," Matt said.

"I can't tell you how many people have called me during the course of this most tumultuous of years and said, at what point does the conservative community, do the 74 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump, do the people who love America, and think it's okay to read Dr. Seuss, and love Thomas Jefferson and Mount Rushmore, at what point do they start pushing back on the cancel culture? At what point do they say, this is a line you can't cross? I think we're at that line," he added.

"We called our conference, 'America Uncanceled.' The whole thing became about them canceling us. At what point do we not have the right to say,' you can't treat us this way'? You're disparaging us. You're destroying our reputation. You're destroying our ability to be respected members of our community. So, I'm taking your challenge of pursuing our legal options very seriously. And I think we have to go broader. We can't let these companies just follow the woke mob. We can't do it."

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation:

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CNN reporter Jim Acosta was confronted at CPAC by The Federalist reporter David Marcus with a valid question: "When are you guys going to start covering Cuomo?" His answer — or, really, lack of an answer — perfectly demonstrates why he was earlier surrounded by CPAC attendees chanting, "CNN sucks!"

On the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Tuesday, Glenn and producer Stu Burguiere react to a video clip of the exchange with Acosta, as well as the mainstream media's double standards when it comes to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Watch the video below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.