Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain

Here's all you need to know about the housing market for 2014: Nobody knows.

This factoid from Inman News caught my eye. Demand for purchase money mortgages is down 17% from a year ago. What does that mean?

Mmm, well, it means that demand for mortgages to buy a house are off. To which I hear a resounding echo of, "Oh."

Prognostications of the 2014 housing market are mostly cotton-candy upbeat. Most come from sources who are not exactly unbiased. One of my favorites--I forget where exactly I saw it--is that house prices rose last year more than at any time since 2007. That's good, because lots of owners formerly underwater can breathe a little. But the same article neglected to mention that pricing hasn't hit 2006 levels.

Gloom and Doomers are whispering "housing bubble" from the shadows. Spin and Grinners are shouting, "No it's not! from the rafters.

What's a poor prospective homebuyer supposed to do? Answer: Watch shows on HGTV and get yourself in the mood.

The country is in a recovery, we're told, but we're far from recovered. The jobs situation is looking up. Profits are up, but wait--the stock market's been tumbling. China's economy? No one sees behind the great wall. Emerging markets? The markets of the future, and they always will be. Except now, they account for half the world's economy. So, what's gonna happen?

At the risk of repeating myself, nobody knows. Don't forget, Denver was favored to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl.

The Captain's advice: Stay with the basics. Don't be pressured, but don't put things off. The house you want at the price you want is out there.

After all, the only ones who know are those who say they don't know.