Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Optimism Not Allowed

Happy All Hallows' Eve!

OK, I thought yesterday's article on MSNBC entitled "Hard Times Costing Many People Their Homes" ( was an accidental repeat from months ago. It falls into the category of "Tell me something I don't know."

But then I saw this article, "Home Prices Continued to Slide In August" ( ). I think the media was afraid that the nation thought the housing downturn had ended over the weekend. Now that the Southern California fires are over, we desperately need an antagonist. The easiest fallback? Real estate, of course!

Here are some excerpts (with my commentary in red, of course):

NEW YORK - U.S. home prices fell nationwide in August for the eighth consecutive month, offering little hope of a turnaround anytime soon (you're kidding? And I was just about to list my house!)

Things could get worse . . . .There is really no positive news in today's report . . . . At both the national and metro area levels, the fall in home prices is showing no real signs of a slowdown or turnaround. (So, there's no slowdown of the slowdown? And things are getting worse? Hmmm--isn't that what was just said in the paragraph above? Repeat as needed.)

An index of 10 U.S. metropolitan areas fell 5 percent in August from a year ago. That was the biggest drop since June 1991. The lowest ever was a decline of 6.3 percent in April 1991. A broader index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 4.4 percent in August over last year, with 15 of 20 of them reporting that prices fell. (This must be a case of "throw in as many numbers as possible to 1. Make it sound authoritative and 2. Confuse them. Notice that we are far from the lowest ever 1991 percent of decline.)

Housing prices have been a key worry for consumers, and the effect of the slowdown alongside the summer's steep decline in credit availability, has many worried that the economy will go into recession. (Or so the media is hoping--endless possibilities for story lines.)

Notably, eight of the 20 metropolitan areas . . . showed their lowest annual returns ever recorded in August. The report showed drops in Cleveland of 4.1 percent; Las Vegas, 7.6 percent; Miami, 7.8 percent; Minneapolis, 4 percent; Phoenix, 8 percent; San Diego, 8.3 percent; Tampa, Fla., 10.1 percent; and Washington, D.C., 7.2 percent. (So, twelve of the 20 areas have not hit their lowest ever numbers.)

Tampa surpassed Detroit as the worst performing city. Detroit had a 9.3 percent drop over last year. (Yet, it's still not Detroit's lowest ever annual return? Hmmmm.)

And, just in case you're still optimistic about the future of real estate, we have this: