We’ve been focusing more on original content here lately, which means that as articles crop up in other local news sources, we haven’t been posting every single one. Of course, there are some interesting things being said about the local housing market in other news sources, so it’s good to touch base with them once in a while.
So, here are excerpts from some of the interesting real-estate-related articles that have been printed elsewhere in the last week.
Debra Smith, Everett Herald: Area’s housing isn’t doom and gloom, experts say
Area real estate professionals and politicians want to clear something up.
Now is a good time to buy and sell real estate in Snohomish County, no matter what people may be hearing about the national market.
“There is no shortage of information or opinions, and so many reports seem to conflict with each other,” said Ron Sparks, a moderator of the panel and a vice president at Coldwell Banker Bain. “It’s no wonder people are confused.”
Many of the speakers, including Sparks, pointed the finger of blame firmly at the media, which he said are confusing the public by publishing headlines designed to appeal to emotions and reports that “mix and match” local and national information. Sparks compared the real estate market to the weather: What’s happening in San Diego isn’t helpful here.
Yeah, it’s that dog gone confusing media. If not for them, the housing market would be just peachy. Give. Me. A. Break. Talk about grasping at straws.
Seattle P-I Editorial Board: Housing Bubble: Listen to Japan
Politicians in Washington, D.C., seem stalled on how to tie up more strands of an unraveling economy. They should listen to advice from Japan, a land that knows how the bursting of a housing bubble can make a mess of an entire nation’s prospects.
Japan’s financial services minister, Yoshimi Watanabe, told the The Financial Times that using public money to strengthen the U.S. financial system will prove “unavoidable.” As The Financial Times noted, the central banks of Europe and the United States already are considering purchase of mortgage-backed securities.
Wait, what? The P-I Editorial Board seems to be suggesting that we basically handle things in basically the same way that Japan did: use government intervention to attempt to soften the inevitable consequences of the last few years of stupid. As everyone knows, this led to a 20-year economic and housing downturn in Japan, so how does it follow that we should do the same?
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: Seattle home prices post decline
The Seattle-area housing market became more like the dreary national market in one more way in January, posting its first year-to-year price drop since 1991, according to a leading index.
Given that the Seattle area’s annual appreciation has been declining since February 2006, the fact that it finally is negative is no shock.
“I’m surprised we hadn’t seen a decline actually a couple months ago,” said Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University.
The Seattle area has declined 5.6 percent from a peak in July, already exceeding an earlier forecast by Moody’s Economy.com that area prices would decline 5 percent from the peak to a trough at the end of this year or early in 2009.
“I guess our forecast was maybe a little too optimistic,” Andrew Gledhill, an associate economist at Economy.com, said on Tuesday.
Crellin did not offer any numerical predictions, saying: “I think we’re going to continue to see some rough times for the next several months, but I’m hoping it’s not going to get much worse.”
Glenn Crellin seems to be singing a different tune than what we’ve been hearing from him recently. It used to be all “our economy is strong, the housing market is strong, we’re the greatest.” Now we’re hearing more “I think” and “I’m hoping.” Interesting.
David Brewster, Crosscut: Good news! Seattle housing prices drop!
One of today’s top stories is the decline of housing prices in the Seattle area, where the average price has dropped 1.3 percent, comparing January 2008 with the previous January. It’s the first such year-over-year drop since 1991. Not to worry, says The Seattle Times’ story, “others across the nation fared much worse.”
Why “worse”? Shouldn’t the term be “better”? Haven’t we been deploring high housing prices for years, saying how they are driving off residents and preventing our children from ever returning to Seattle? Why don’t we think of dropping prices as a blessed public good?
Hypocrisy, that’s why. The lamentations about affordability are mostly just pious hand wringing, usually by people who are secretly pleased at how much their home values have been going up. Our local papers follow right along, boasting about how much better we do in keeping prices high than other cities.
Duh. It’s nice to see someone other than Seattle Bubble actually come out and say it, though. Thanks, David. As I’ve said before, labeling predictions of home price declines as “doom and gloom” is utter nonsense. Decreasing home prices is a good thing. Really.