It’s widely known (and he’s written about it many, many times himself) that when Warren Buffett invests in a stock, he does so after thorough research, and for the long haul. Essentially, he ignores short-term news. We’ve reported several times recently on the strength of the housing market. Two new pieces of news are out this week, which point to a more dire picture. But take them with a grain of salt. “It’s tough to go on month-to-month data. Anything can happen in a given month like weather,” says Jim Gaines, chief economist at the Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center.
The housing market seems to be increasingly in good shape, as this blog has reported recently. However, “in good shape” means different things to different people. The construction industry is booming, if you look at the number of housing starts. However, if you look at the number of completions, they’re substantially lagging — up only 3% on one-unit structures. And with completions growing at that slow of a pace, there’s likely to be upward pressure on home prices in the near future.
There was a time, not too long ago, where quite a few people took hauntings quite seriously. In fact, I seem to recall a lot of old movies where the basic theme was, some family got a house, cheap, because it was haunted. And that’s still true today in some cultures — but not in the U.S.A. “When it comes to real estate, a home’s haunted legacy can actually be a selling point,” reports Angela Colley for realtor.com. So, if you want more for your home, consider getting a ghost!
OK. So the economy is better. The housing market is in full recovery, if not possibly even in a bubble again. So, what gives with over 50% of all residential mortgages being held by Fannie and Freddie? (As a reference point, that’s up from 7% in 1981). As expected (and always), it comes down to risk. Why does it matter to borrowers? According to Laurie Goodman, the director of the Housing Finance Policy Center, because a lack of private backers could “lock borrowers who need larger loans or have less than pristine credit out of lending.”
OK. Last week we covered how to handle your house if you’ve gotten this close to the wire and aren’t yet ready for Halloween. But what good is it to have a spooky house if you yourself aren’t prepared to be decked out for the ghouls and ghoulettes? So, to help you out, here are four last minute costume ideas:
The housing data is already shockingly strong (on top of the good news covered here the last few days, we just discovered that the housing supply shrunk from 5.1 months to 4.8 months). Now, on top of that, we have strong job data, with the four-week moving average on initial claims for state jobless benefits hitting the lowest level since December — 1973. With these data and Europe slightly weakening, it’s entirely possible that the Fed will raise rates in December.
Following on several days, and to a lesser extent months, of really good news, the big boys are making noise that may be immediately appealing to many borrowers, but may not be so hot for the market as a whole. Freddie Mac has hinted that more low-down-payment products could be on the way. Of course, low down-payments help many people into homes. But on the other hand, they enable people to buy more home, drive up prices, and may lead to another bubble.
Of course, it’s sensible that when making big medical or health decisions, you should take into account how much longer you’re likely to live. If the answer is either decades, or a few years, then you might reasonably make different decisions (e.g., if you’re going to live decades longer, then making lifestyle decisions to make those years happier is a reasonable choice). But for better or worse, 33% of seniors in a recent study underestimated how long they might live. Think twice, and kick those bad habits.
Economists were predicting that September would be the sixth straight month to have more than 1 million housing starts — a sign of sustained recovery in the market. However, the numbers even surpassed expectations The economists polled by Reuters had been expecting 1.15 million units for September, and the actual number came in at 1.206 — about 5% higher than expected. And not only are the actual starts up, but builder confidence is at a 10 year high.
Bethany McClean, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, recently wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post. Her contention is, that while “everyone” in Washington thinks the taxpayer-backed mortgage giants need to go the way of the dinosaurs, the fact is we need them now (and possibly more than ever). It’s a fairly long piece, and does a decent job of covering the current issues (both perceived and actual), as well as why she thinks the institutions are still important. Worth the read.