When stocks are going up, the airwaves are full of Wall Street analysts and other pundits chock-full of stock picks sure to make you money.
So what can you expect to hear after stocks plummet 50% or more?
All the reasons why stocks “are still historically expensive and have further — much, much further — to fall,” notwithstanding their sickening plunge to date (call this phenomenon “prediction by extrapolation”).
Thanks a lot.
Analysts’ housing predictions have been much the same.
To be fair, Barron’s Alan Abelson, who cites the charts above, has been bearish on housing all along. In his most recent column, “Double Trouble,” Abelson makes the scary point that, despite the housing market’s chilling fall to date, it still is well above historical trend lines.
Playing Devil’s Advocate
Setting aside the counter-arguments for another post (See, “Waiting for Cheap Housing . . . Since 1997“), what if Abelson’s right?
Should every prospective Buyer simply wait it out in a rental, until prices are more appealing? Should every growing family squeezed into a too-small house or apartment make do for another 5,6,7 years — or longer, according to some bears — until housing prices return to their long-term trend line?
There are more variations on this theme, but you get the idea.
Unless you: a) believe the prognosticators (always a dubious proposition); and b) are very patient, you’re better off making housing decisions based on your current life situation, finances, and job opportunities.
My investing background and Realtor experience tell me that no one — not Robert Shiller, not Nouriel Roubini, not Warren Buffett — has a crystal ball accurately telling them what housing prices will be next year — let alone 5 or 10 years from now.
To quote another investing guru, Peter Lynch, “If you spend 13 minutes per year trying to predict the economy, you have wasted 10 minutes.”
Substitute “the housing market” for “the economy,” and you’ll have it about right . . .