This is what you get when a college professor looks at today’s real estate market – faulty assumptions. 1) The graph he included shows the two years (2012-2013) of rapid appreciation; and 2) the building-permit numbers are skewed by the lack of land available, plus 3) rapidly rising rents help to reduce the home-price-to-rent ratio.
From the latimes.com:
If history is any guide, the L.A. housing price cycle seems to last about 12 years on average, of which seven years is spent in the bull market with at least 65% real price appreciation, and five years is spent in the bear market. We are three years into the housing recovery that started in 2012, with 27% appreciation so far. On average, there will be four more years or 38% more price growth before we reach the turning point.
Of course, it’s possible the bear market could come earlier or later than four years, but that is quite unlikely to happen in the very near future.
How can I be so sure? Often, during a bubble-making period, we see an accelerating rate of home price appreciation, as in 1988-89 and 2004-06. In the last two years, we haven’t seen that kind of rapid appreciation in Los Angeles.
Another way to understand housing price cycles is by looking at building permit numbers. Speaking roughly, if developers are investing in new properties, that’s a good sign that demand, and prices, are rising or keeping steady. If developers are holding back, that suggests demand, and prices, will soon fall.
L.A. housing permit units peaked in 1977, 1988 (50,500 units) and 2004 (26,900 units), one to three years ahead of the real housing price peaks in 1980, 1989 and 2006. Permits bottomed in 1982, 1993 (7,300 units) and 2009 (5,700 units), a few years before the housing price troughs in 1984, 1997 and 2012.
Over the last three years, we have seen L.A. building permits increase from 11,200 units in 2012 to 18,200 units in 2014. The 2015 number will most likely be higher than 2014. Therefore, we can predict the next home price peak is at least two years away.
Yet another measure of rational housing value is a simple price-to-rent ratio. The ratio is calculated by taking the median home price over the annual median rent in L.A. If the ratio is high — meaning that home prices are beyond their fundamental value based on expected rental revenues — that points to a bubble. Again, let’s look at history.
Two previous peaks were in December 1989, with a ratio of 14.8 to 1, and in February 2006, with a ratio of 24.4. According to Zillow, the current price-to-rent ratio in L.A. was 17.1 in May, which is far below the 2006 bubble level but still higher than any time before 2003.
That doesn’t worry me, though. A high ratio doesn’t spell danger for Los Angeles because, similar to New York (ratio: Manhattan 25, Brooklyn 23) and San Francisco (ratio: 21), it’s now a “superstar” city. L.A.’s size, amenities, weather and geography make its houses an investment target for the global elite. Wealthy individuals from all over the world don’t care that it might make more financial sense to rent, because they’re not simply buying Los Angeles houses to live in them, they’re also trying to diversify their financial portfolios.
Even though Los Angeles is one of the least affordable cities in the U.S., all factors indicate that it is not in a housing bubble. Of course the bull market will end eventually, but that doesn’t mean we’re heading for a devastating crash, like in 1990 or 2007. Whether you should put up a million bucks for that bungalow is another story.