Housing Market Data Doesn't Tell the Whole Story

housing market
housing market
RadarLogic
RadarLogic

Over the past two weeks we have been bombarded with housing market data, much of it seemingly contradictory.

• On February 15, the National Association of Home Builders released their Housing Market Index for February. The Index measures confidence among home builders, where 50 is neutral, higher is positive, and lower is negative. The index was 16. Clearly the folks who build homes think the market is in trouble.

• On February 16, the U.S. Census Bureau released housing starts and permits for January. Starts were up 14 percent, having been down 5 percent the prior month, but permits fell 10 percent. What's more, the increase was apparently fueled by multifamily dwellings (read apartment houses) not single-family homes.

• On February 22, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for December was released and showed declines across the board. By the way, Radar Logic had correctly predicted this the week before.

And then last week, two of the big guys started debating the accuracy of their numbers in the media. Even the father of housing metrics, Dr. Robert Shiller, spoke up. Unfortunately, none of these experts has really zeroed in on the point: Housing markets are "busted," and the reasons are not going away.