Blip, blop

As I’ve noted several times, I am not interested in selling the palatial estate at Surlywood. However, I do try to pay attention to the real-estate market, which perhaps excludes me from this list of the clue-adverse:

This is perhaps the most frightening news of all, that so many people still haven’t adjusted their expectations to economic reality. Maybe they’re under the influence of Kudlowism or, more likely, they’re liberals who think that the Department of Unicorns and Rainbows has already fixed the economy.

People who haven’t actually tried to sell their homes, and who haven’t paid attention to the real-estate market, seem to imagine that the crash that hit last September was just a blip signaling a short-term recession and now we’re in blue-sky territory. When the sheriff’s auction becomes the primary venue for home sales, maybe people will start paying attention.

Foreclosures are indeed up in Oklahoma, but the situation here is decidedly less dire than in other places where the bubbles were bigger. For the last couple of months, I’ve been watching four houses nearby to see if I could detect any trend. Two have sold; one was turned over on a lease-purchase deal; one remains on the market. This is not necessarily representative of the whole state, or even of the northwest quadrant of Oklahoma City, but I have to assume that folks here aren’t entirely discouraged yet, especially since another one in the zone being monitored went on sale this month.

And the arrival this past week of the chairman of the National Association of Home Builders failed to regloomify the local market:

Nationally, home building is reeling, in some places it’s on the ropes — and in a few particularly hard-hit markets, it’s knocked cold.

“Normal” production used to be 1.8 million new units a year; now the pace is about 380,000 units, [Joe Robson] said. Being an Oklahoman of some experience makes his burden a lot lighter, especially now.

Things could be a lot worse here. Home sales are off and construction has been cut way back, but home values on average have remained firm, even ticking up at times.

That’s a 79-percent drop nationwide. Local builder Jeff Click has been tracking building permits in metro Oklahoma City, which are off by about half as much. Maybe we can say that it’s only half as bad here.

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