Michael Kinsley isn’t everyone’s favorite columnist, but he is a great stylist and fun to read, even if you disagree with him. He is typically entertaining on why the housing bubble is bursting now — and he even brings in contrarian signals, like the sudden fondness among major media outlets to say there is no housing bubble:
It is obvious to me that today’s real estate prices are a speculative bubble that is bound to burst. Of course, this has been obvious to me for about three decades and wrong almost all of that time. Nevertheless. One piece of evidence is the Dinner Party Index. The boom is over when more people are bored by real estate anecdotes (“My next-door neighbor got three times her asking price before she even put it on the market, from a professional mind reader who divined that she was thinking about selling. . . .”) than have new ones.
Another reason the value of your house is about to plunge is that the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and The Washington Post all say that it isn’t. A recent L.A. Times article reported that the median price of a local house had gone up only 17 percent in the past year. Headline: “L.A. County Home Prices Cool Slightly.” Subhead: “Slowdown may not last.” To describe a 17 percent annual increase as a “slowdown” assumes that annual gains of 20 percent or more are the norm. And the evidence for “may not last” is quotes from real estate agents whistling in the dark.