Case Shiller Up But too Early to Call Bottom?

We’ll start with a little self-congratulatory pat on the back: this is the PortlandRealEstateBlog.com’s 1000th post!

The May 2012 Case Shiller Index was released this morning and all 20 regions tracked were up.  Portland was up 2.6% from 131.62 to 135.09.  It’s only the second increase in a row for Portland but we’re starting to hear a lot of talk that we are passed the bottom and heading up.  It is easy to see why: tight inventory and the return of the investor to the market is putting on pressure that we haven’t seen in years.  RMLS data, which runs about 15 days out when it is released compared to Case Shiller’s 60 days has been showing increases recently as well.  Interest rates are below 4% for the well qualified, even jumbo loans.

BUT, we were having the same conversations last year.  A strong first half of the year was paired with a lackluster second half.  Housing inventory, the ratio of closed sales to active listings, was twice what it is now but there are a lot of factors that could apply downwards pressure.  Radar Logic thinks that real estate investing may still be a short:

“Those people looking at current results and calling a bottom are being dangerously short-sighted,” said Michael Feder, Radar Logic’s CEO. “Not only are the immediate signs inconclusive, but the broad dynamics are still quite scary. We think housing is still a short.”

We’ve been seeing a lot of our Realtor friends on Facebook lament that fact that inventory is low and they need listings to show potential buyers.  They may get their wish:

The analytics company [Radar Logic] explained the higher prices seen will lead to more supply as financial institutions start unleashing their foreclosure inventory and homeowners that were unable to sell due to negative equity will at last list their homes. As supply increases, prices will move downward again.

You won’t get a “buy now” spiel from us.  The decision to buy (or sell) a house is individual.  All markets hold an element of risk and it is usually those closer to the edge have the biggest losses or rewards.  We’re past the era of using housing as an ATM machine but as a long term investment many are moving off the sidelines looking for their versi0n of the American Dream.

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