Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

Posts Tagged ‘home prices’

The Stock Market Needs to Do This in 2014 Before I Invest More in It

By for Profit Confidential

Why Investors Need to See It to Believe It in 2014This is an odd stock market. On one hand, you don’t want to miss out on any of the upward moves, which is why you should continue to ride the gains; on the other hand, you also want to make sure you have an exit plan in place. (See “Time for Investors to Create an Exit Strategy?”)

As we move toward the end of the first quarter, the one thing that is clear is the difference in the market behavior this year versus the same time in 2013, when everything was moving rapidly higher with minimal regard for the underlying market fundamentals.

As I wrote in these pages in January, this will be a more difficult market in which to make money compared to the previous few years.

The move by the Federal Reserve under Janet Yellen to continue to dismantle the quantitative easing that was put into place by former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke a few years ago has continued into 2014 with the third straight month of cuts to the central bank’s monthly bond buying.

The gradual $10.0-billion-per-month reduction in the Fed’s monthly bond buying will likely continue until the program reaches zero early in the fourth quarter, unless, of course, the economic renewal stalls.

What this means for the stock market is that the drying up of easy money from the Fed will continue to put a damper on the money available for speculating on stocks, especially those in the emerging markets. And as bond yields rise, there will be more of a shift to bonds.

We are already seeing the impact on the … Read More

Is the Housing Market Really a Hot Spot for Investors?

By for Profit Confidential

Urban Housing Market Booming with PotentialNew York City is a colossal urban jungle, but what strikes me is the surging housing market rental prices in not only Manhattan, but also the strong price appreciation in the borough of Brooklyn.

Average home prices peaked around $550,000 in early 2006, prior to a steady decline since then. Yet if you look at regions, especially Manhattan and Brooklyn, the demand for housing and rentals is strong, and this has created a surge in rental prices.

What has been apparent in New York City over the past decade has been the clean-up of the city, along with the rapid development in the surrounding areas close to Manhattan, such as Brooklyn. A look at Brooklyn shows an area that is rapidly growing with multiple new businesses, hotels, and housing market projects reclaimed from former industrial lands.

Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ/WFM), for instance, built its largest outlet in Brooklyn that was previously on industrial land. There are now plans for further development in the area. The end result has been a boom in the housing market in Brooklyn for both property buyers and renters. A look at the rental prices in Brooklyn show rental rates as high as $5,000 a month or more for a two-bedroom apartment. The former docklands in Brooklyn have been transformed into a beautiful urban area with paths, expensive condos, and a great view of New York City.

The rise is staggering and clearly indicates a booming housing market there.

The situation in Brooklyn and New York City is indicative of many areas across the country.

Just take a look at the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price … Read More

Why the U.S. Housing Market Recovery Will Falter This Year

By for Profit Confidential

Housing Market Recovery in JeopardyThe chart below is of the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, an index that tracks home prices in the U.S. housing market. As the chart shows, from their peak in 2007 to their low in late 2011, U.S. homes prices fell by about 30%. Since then, prices in the housing market have improved, but they are still down about 20% compared to 2007. Basically, home prices have recouped only one-third of their losses from the 2007 real estate crash.

Yes, the U.S. housing market has regained some lost ground, but it’s far from being back to where it was in 2007. And I’m very worried about the pace of the housing market recovery; I feel that the recovery is in jeopardy.

HPI SP Case-Shiller Home Price Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Consider this: the interest rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage tracked by Freddie Mac increased to 4.43% in January of this year from 3.41% in January of 2013. (Source: Freddie Mac web site, last accessed February 26, 2014.) While there hasn’t been much mainstream media coverage on this, mortgage rates have increased by 30% in one year’s time. With the Federal Reserve cutting back on its quantitative easing program, interest rates are expected to continue their path upwards in 2014.

Higher interest rates are pushing would-be homebuyers away from the housing market. The U.S. Mortgage Bankers Association reported last week that its index, which tracks mortgage activity (of both refinanced and new home purchases), fell 8.5% in the week ended February 21. (Source: Reuters, February 26, 2014.)

And new homebuilders are seeing demand from homebuyers decline in the housing market as well. While presenting … Read More

Why Are So Many Homebuyers Backing Out of Their Contracts?

By for Profit Confidential

Homebuilders Post Steepest Decline in Confidence Ever RecordedJust as the majority of Americans think the U.S. jobs market is improving, there’s a notion in the air that the U.S. housing market has rebounded and is healthy again. I don’t believe this to be true.

Just like the government’s official unemployment number is manipulated because it excludes people who have given up looking for work, when we took a closer look at the stats we hear about home prices, new home sales, and existing home sales, we didn’t like what we found in them.

Home prices increased to unprecedented levels in 2005. At social events back then, everyone talked about how much their home or vacation property had gone up in value and how they were getting deeper into the housing market. Few talked about the reckless lending activities of the banks that were the cause for the rise in home prices.

We now hear new homes are being sold at a new record pace. Buyers are apparently rushing to buy houses again, and the housing market is hot once more. Sadly, underlining the strong sales of homes, the number of cancelled sales orders compared to overall sales (commonly referred to as the cancellation rate) is going through the roof.

In 2013, D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE/DHI) had more cancelled orders than it did in 2012—7,751 cancelled contracts to buy homes compared to 6,657 in 2012. The cancellation rate for this homebuilder in 2013 was 24%. (Source: D.R Horton, Inc. web site, last accessed February 18, 2014.)

Other homebuilders are having the very same problem. KB Home (NYSE/KBH) reports its cancellation rate in 2013 reached 32%—that means one out … Read More

Trouble Ahead for Housing in 2014?

By for Profit Confidential

Biggest Risk to Housing in 2014Will the gains that the U.S. housing market made in 2012 and 2013 continue into 2014? As you’ll read below, the biggest threat to the housing market is moving in the opposite direction—against housing.

Sure, the Case-Shiller S&P Home Price Index, which tracks prices in the U.S. housing market, shows an overall increase of 13.6% in home prices in the first 10 months of 2013 (see the chart below).

But for growth in the housing market to continue, you need favorable market conditions for buyers. Unfortunately, the “favorable” conditions of 2011 through to 2013 are now becoming “unfavorable.”

S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Interest rates on mortgages are rising sharply. In November of 2013, the popular 30-year fixed mortgage rate tracked by Freddie Mac stood at 4.26%. In the same period a year ago, this rate was only 3.35%. (Source; Freddie Mac web site, last accessed January 3, 2013.) The interest rate on the standard 30-year fixed mortgage has gone up 27% in twelve months. And the higher mortgage rates go, the more the affordability for home buyers declines.

But rising interest rates are not the only factor weighing against the housing market in 2014.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), which virtually disappeared after 2007, are making a big comeback.

According to DataQuick, in November of 2013, about 11% of all homes in Southern California were bought using ARMs. This has doubled in the area from the same period a year ago. (Source: Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2013.) ARMs have a fixed interest rate for a certain period of time, and then rates on the typical ARM adjust to market rates. … Read More

Burning Money at the Rate of $113 Billion a Month; How Can They Stop Printing?

By for Profit Confidential

Why Our National Debt Will Double in the Years AheadIn the month of November, the U.S. government registered a budget deficit of $135 billion. Over the course of the month, it spent $318 billion and only took in $182 billion. So far for the fiscal year 2014, which began in October, the U.S. government has registered a budget deficit of $227 billion; that’s an average of $113.5 billion a month so far this fiscal year. (Source: Department of the Treasury; Bureau of Fiscal Service, December 11, 2013.)

In the same period a year ago (October and November of 2013), the U.S. government registered a budget deficit of almost $300 billion. (I ‘m certain that some politician comparing the two periods will say, “Look, our budget deficit situation is getting better!”)

Whenever the U.S. government registers a budget deficit, it has to go out to the market and borrow money to pay for its expenses and obligations. This increases our national debt, which has skyrocketed over the past few years due to consecutive years of extremely large budget deficits. As of December 10, our national debt stood at $17.2 trillion. (Source: Treasury Direct web site, last accessed December 12, 2013.)

I believe our national debt will double to $34.0 trillion in the years ahead.

Here’s my reasoning:

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s projection, between 2014 and 2018, the total U.S. budget deficit of the U.S. government will add up to about $2.4 trillion. This means that by the government’s own estimates, the national debt will hit about $20.0 trillion in four years. (Source: The Congressional Budget Office, May 2013.)

But I think the budget deficits the U.S. government will … Read More

Bubbles: What Happens When Absolute Insanity Prevails?

By for Profit Confidential

An old friend walked into my office the other day and told me I was dead wrong about the stock market being overvalued and overbought. “Michael, it looks like key stock indices can go even higher next year.” His reasoning: the Fed won’t stop printing and that means “the market can only go up.”

This is exactly where the trouble begins.

You see, I have read a lot about bubbles…and not just the ones in key stock indices. All bubbles have one thing in common: when bubbles get bigger, optimism goes mainstream.

Looking back, you will see this yourself. During Tulip Mania, the general consensus was that tulip prices would only go higher—they did, but then they came crashing down. The housing market bubble of 2004–2006 is another prime example of this. Back then, I remember everyone talked about how home prices would only go up. People took risks beyond imagination. They talked about getting a third mortgage to buy another investment property and many investors I talked to were juggling several properties. Home prices then collapsed.

I believe the stock market of today is clearly displaying signs of a classic bubble.

Sadly, investors continue to buy into it. According to the Investment Company Institute, between the weeks ended November 6, 2013 and December 4, 2013, long-term stock mutual funds saw an inflow of $24.8 billion. (Source: Investment Company Institute, December 11, 2013.)

Meanwhile, the number of stock advisors bullish on key stock indices continues to rise. Insiders are selling more stock than they are buying. The VIX (Volatility Index) is near a record four-year low. Margin to buy … Read More

Why the Blind Optimism Behind the Housing Recovery Won’t End Well

By for Profit Confidential

Housing RecoveryThe news headlines are saying the U.S. housing market is witnessing robust growth and flipping homes for profit is back.

While many are now saying there is growth in the U.S. housing market and that it will continue, I disagree with them, based on many different factors…all of which I want my readers to know about.

Yes, home prices have gone up, but that’s about it for positive developments. The housing market still suffers, and there are problems that need to be fixed before it sees a full-on recovery.

The delinquency rate on single-family residential mortgages in the U.S. remains staggeringly high. In the second quarter of this year, it was 9.41%. Yes, again; it has declined from its peak of 11.27% in the first quarter of 2010, but it’s still almost 140% higher than its historical average of 3.94%! (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed November 8, 2013.)

As I have been harping on about in these pages; institutional investors jumped into the U.S. housing market buying residential homes in bulk, and as a result, prices increased. But we didn’t see first-time home buyers run towards the housing market—an increase in first-time home buyers is essential for any economic recovery.

According to the National Association of Realtors, in September, first-time home buyers accounted for 28% of all existing home sales in the U.S. Meanwhile, investors were behind one-third of all existing home sales! (Source: National Association of Realtors, October 21, 2013.)

The “U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook” report issued in October by the Office of the Chief Economist at Freddie Mac said, “According … Read More

Read This Story and Your Opinion of Where Housing Is Headed Will Change

By for Profit Confidential

housing marketLet’s face it: the U.S. housing market is still under severe stress. No matter how the bulls may spin their argument, it’s far from a real recovery. The historical fundamental factors behind a typical housing market recovery are still missing.

According to real estate information company Zillow, in the second quarter of this year, almost 24% of all homes with a mortgage in the U.S. housing market had negative equity (the homes were worth less than the mortgage issued on them). More than 12 million home owners in the U.S. economy remain “underwater.” And in some geographical pockets, the spread between the mortgages and the values of the homes is very wide; in the Las Vegas area, almost 13% of home owners with a mortgage owe two times the amount of their home’s current value! (Source: Zillow, August 28, 2013.)

Sadly, the misery in the U.S. housing market doesn’t just end there.

The delinquency rate on single-family residential mortgages at all commercial banks stood at 9.41% in the second quarter of 2013. Yes, it has declined a little from 9.7% in the first quarter of this year, but it still remains very high compared to the historical average. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed October 7, 2013.) The average delinquency rate on single-family residential mortgages from 1991 to 2006 was only 2.2%.

These negative factors working against the housing recovery are just a few of many.

Since 2012, the majority of activity in the housing market has been the result of investors buying up homes, renovating them, and renting them out. We didn’t really see … Read More

What Are the Homebuilder Stocks Trying to Tell Us After Falling 20% Since May?

By for Profit Confidential

housing marketThe U.S. housing market is “hot;” home prices are going up and up. At least that’s what the mainstream’s saying.

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index, considered a key indicator of the U.S housing market, increased to 159.18 in July. In June, it stood at 158.20. Since the beginning of the year, the index of home prices in 20 major cities in the U.S. economy has increased by roughly 7.5%. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed September 24, 2013.)

Why isn’t this bullish news pushing up homebuilder stocks? Or more importantly, what are those leading indicator stocks trying to tell us by collapsing 20% since their May high?

As I continue to write in these pages, I am skeptical of the rise in home prices in the U.S. housing market. I believe the rebound in the housing market activity is a direct result of the Federal Reserve’s easy money and nothing else.

To have real growth in the housing market, you need buyers who are going to actually live in the homes they purchase. This analogy can also be used for other commodities. For example, to assess the condition in the copper market, if you see increased buying by companies that make copper products, this suggests there’s demand. On the contrary, if you see speculators, then you can assume they will bail as soon as they make some money on their trade.

The U.S. housing market has accumulated too many speculators. It is well documented in these pages how institutional investors are buying homes, fixing them up, and then renting them out.

For … Read More

The Corner We Have Been Forced Into

By for Profit Confidential

010813_PC_lombardiBoy, has the Federal Reserve ever created a monster with its monetary policy of creating $85.0 billion a month in new money out of thin air!

Consumer confidence is anemic in the U.S. economy as Americans are being financially “squeezed.” Consumer confidence, which is missing in this so-called economic recovery, leads to higher consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. economy.

Two days ago, we got news the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined to 80.3 in July, down about 2.2% from June. (Source: The Conference Board, July 30, 2013.) This is nowhere close to the consumer confidence levels we saw prior to the financial crisis in the U.S. economy.

The survey of consumer confidence in July showed 35.5% of respondents are claiming jobs are difficult to get.

But that isn’t all…

We are told the housing market is improving, but few mention that millions of Americans are living in homes they purchased with positive equity that now have negative equity—their home prices are lower than the mortgage they borrowed on them. The number stood at 9.7 million homes with negative equity at the end of the first quarter. (Source: CoreLogic, June 12, 2013.) This phenomenon breeds consumer discouragement, not consumer confidence.

All of this is not a surprise to me; I have been saying it all along. Consumer confidence cannot improve because the Federal Reserve is buying $85.0 billion a month of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-back securities—none of which helps the “little guy.”

Look at Japan, a country that has become famously known for its monetary policy and quantitative easing. One would … Read More

Gold Prices Flat as Inflation Runs at 6%: How Long Will That Last?

By for Profit Confidential

Gold PricesWe are told by the “gold bears” that we are headed for a period of deflation ahead, so we should sell gold bullion because it doesn’t have any purpose in your portfolio. But these “gold bears” might be surprised to know that inflation in the U.S. economy is already much higher than what the official numbers tell us.

Long ago, I explained in these pages how the Consumer Price Index (CPI) doesn’t really take into consideration things that actually matter to consumers.

We need to look at alternative measures of inflation, like the Everyday Price Index (EPI) reported by the American Institute for Economic Research. It considers goods and services that Americans buy frequently.

The EPI, a better indicator of inflation, increased 0.5% in June, following an increase of 0.3% in May. (Source: American Institute for Economic Research, July 17, 2013.) Based on June’s inflation number, inflation is running at an annualized rate of six percent, according to the American Institute for Economic Research. (It feels more like 10% to me.)

I also read articles that say there is no demand for gold bullion. I don’t understand this notion. Look at the facts: the majority of the selling we witnessed in May was in the “gold” paper market. Looking at the physical market, demand has never been stronger.

So far this month, the U.S. Mint has sold 36,500 ounces of gold bullion in coins. Last year, for the entire month of July, the U.S. mint sold 30,500 ounces of gold bullion in coins. The month of July is not even over yet and the U.S. Mint has already sold about … Read More

Why More Troubles Lie Ahead for the Housing Market

By for Profit Confidential

I completely disagree with the notion that the housing market in the U.S. economy is improving.

No doubt, we have seen home prices increase, but the price increases have been minor and restricted to certain geographical areas—but by no means do the price increases suggest there are actual improvements in the real estate market. In fact, the housing market may face even more trouble ahead.

For the housing market to see real recovery, we need to witness increased participation from home buyers. While an increase in home prices may suggest to some that there are actual home buyers coming into the market and pushing prices higher, the truth is the opposite.

When I say “home buyers,” I don’t mean institutional investors who have been buying homes in the U.S. housing market to rent. I mean those individuals who actually buy a house to live in it—they are not there to speculate.

In June, first-time home buyers accounted for 29% of all the existing-home sales in the U.S. housing market—down more than nine percent from the same period a year ago. According to the National Association of Realtors, in a healthy housing market, first-time home buyers should account for 40% of all existing-home sales. (Source: National Association of Realtors, July 22, 2013.)

I can see the number of real home buyers decline even further.

The national average commitment rate for 30-year mortgages, reported by Freddie Mac, was 4.07% in June. In the same period last year, it was 3.68%. As mortgage rates continue to rise—and they will as the Federal Reserve prepares to “taper” quantitative easing—it will become more difficult for … Read More

How to Make Sense of This Mixed-Up Market

By for Profit Confidential

Home PricesThe current market action will soon turn to selling. I’ve come to that conclusion because what the current stock market is doing is really not normal, and a correction will certainly come.

I’m not saying the end is near. In fact, I feel there are more gains to come, but the ride will likely be bumpy and riddled with risk.

When I objectively evaluate the market, I see many stocks, even those that have horrible fundamentals, rising to levels that just don’t make any sense to me.

I’m actually perplexed. The higher market trading has proven to be much more sustainable than I thought it would be at the end of the first quarter. You can thank the Federal Reserve for a boost in your 401(k).

The new records set last Wednesday by the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were really not warranted. Or at least not yet, unless the economic recovery picks up and corporate America delivers strong revenue and earnings growth and not the diluted results that have kept Wall Street happy.

Because of the Street’s reduced expectations, I would expect companies to report some blow-away quarters. We will see for sure when the earnings parade picks up starting this week. Don’t just settle for an inline or slightly better-than-expected quarter. If there’s any real growth, you’ll see much more.

And then there’s the housing sector, which will be in the limelight tomorrow when the housing starts and building permits readings for June are released. We saw some stalling in the housing sector in May, so it will be interesting to see if the … Read More

See for Yourself, There’s No Real Economic Growth

By for Profit Confidential

Real Economic GrowthQuantitative easing was supposed to bring economic growth to the U.S. economy, but it is failing at its job. Just look at the chart below to see how badly things have turned out.

The chart shows the velocity of money in the U.S. economy. For the uninitiated, velocity is a measure of how many times each dollar must be used to buy specific goods and services. It’s a strong indicator of economic growth. When velocity increases, it suggests there’s heightened activity in the economy.

Clearly, the velocity of money shows the U.S. is going through severe tumult, and at the very best, economic growth has been questionable. It is continuously plunging and currently stands at historically low levels.

Velocity of M2 Money Stock(M2V)

The primary goal of quantitative easing was to print money to buy bad assets from the banks so they could start lending again, which should lead to increased consumer spending and, eventually, economic growth. But if quantitative easing was actually working, the velocity chart wouldn’t look like it’s taking a nosedive.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t disagree that the first round of quantitative easing was needed. If not for QE1, the financial system would still be in great jeopardy. However, continuing it is not leading to any real economic growth.

But the quantitative easing goes on anyway. The Federal Reserve continues to print $85.0 billion a month. Even now that there’s speculation that it will start to taper off, you need to realize that it will still be printing more money—“taper” doesn’t mean stop; it means to slow the rate.

If there was any real economic growth in this nation, then … Read More

« Older Entries
Financial Reports
Enter your e-mail address to subscribe to
Profit Confidential — IT'S FREE!
Enter e-mail:
ALSO RECEIVE A FREE COPY of our exclusive report:
"A Golden Opportunity for Stock Market Investors"