August 1, 2017

Big urban housing shifts

Boing Boing - In May 2014, 259 [London district] Islington homes changed hands; in May 2016, 139 houses were sold in the Borough: this May, it was 89.

It's not just volume that's down: prices have also stagnated, flat for all of 2017, with many economists predicting a sharp fall.

Many of the house-sales in recent years were purely speculative. London is ground zero for the world's money-launderers, who buy homes as a way to secure the cash they've smuggled out of their countries, treating the world's most illiquid asset as something close to cash in its liquidity -- there were so many other money-launderers queued up to buy anything in London that prices kept rising and houses and flats could be flipped for cash on a few days' notice.

But that liquidity depends on the firm belief that there will be more buyers in the future, and that they will drive prices up over inflation.... Once buyers drift away from the market, a whole load of speculators find themselves holding overpriced assets that no one wants at anything like the price they paid for them ("if you can't spot the sucker at the poker table, you're the sucker"). Like kids playing musical chairs who intuit that the music is about to stop, everyone scrambles to dump their assets, driving down prices, increasing the scramble.

CNBC - Home prices in Denver, Houston, Miami and the Washington, D.C., metro area are now considered overvalued. Some previously hot markets, such as San Francisco and the New York City metropolitan area, are cooling down. Low mortgage rates are keeping the market affordable from a monthly perspective, but affordability will likely become a much bigger challenge in the coming years.

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