I find it incredibly refreshing to read Michael Youngblood’s reports on housing prices in the U.S. Why? Because the managing director of asset-backed securities research at Friedman Billings Ramsey & Co. in Arlington, Va. isn’t as pessimistic as everyone else I interview.
Youngblood thinks residential real estate is a lot stronger than most people suspect. He bases his assessment on a new economic model he created that forecasts housing prices in 379 metropolitan areas (MSAs). I interviewed him back in early May when he first introduced his econometric model and he has recently re-estimated that model. The key points of his most recent report are:
• Housing prices will rise in each of the next four quarters, but by progressively slower rates year over year: 7.1% in 2Q 2006; 5.7% in 3Q 2006; 4.4% in 4Q 2006 and 3.5% in 1Q 2007.
• MSAs with fastest year-over-year gains in 1Q 2006 will continue to rise. Those cities include Phoenix, Az (34% expected rise in 1Q 2007) and Naples, Fla. (51% expected rise in 1Q 2007).
• California market will have continued rising house prices with a median year-over-year rate of 24.1% in 1Q 2007.
• Ten of the largest MSAs will continue to rises in housing prices: 17.5% in New York City; 26.7% in Los Angeles, Ca.; 4.9% in Chicago; 3.9% in Houston; and 4.8% in Atlanta, Ga.
• House prices will fall in increasingly numbers of MSAs: four in 2Q 2006; 10 in 3Q 2006; 28 in 4Q 2006 and 24 in 1Q 2007 where they should fall by a median of 1.3% year over year. Of those 24 MSAs, 17 are located in the rust belt, cotton belt and farm belt.
• Only five of the largest 100 MSAs (St Louis, Mo., Pittsburg, Columbia, SC, Little Rock, Charleston, SC) will see a fall in housing prices year over year in 1Q 2007.
• Only Honolulu, Ha. Which is experiencing a house price bubble, will see a fall in prices in 1Q 2007, whereas the other 73 MSAs with bubbles should rise by a median year-over-year rate of 19.6%.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.