Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thou shalt not lie: NAR edition

I've heard the meme that "house prices are falling for the first time since the Great Depression" quite a few times recently (examples here and here). The source cited is the National Association of Realtors (the phrase appears in many of their documents).

I'm not sure how these folks came up with it, but its clearly nonsense. We only have to go back to.....1991 to find widespread falling real estate prices. The Case-Shiller indices, probably the most realiable data around, show that nationally prices fell 6.8% between the peak in October 1989 and the trough in February 1994.

Ironically, the NAR has been parroting this line for quite a while now, obviously expecting people to believe that home values hardly ever drop and only do so in the most extreme circumstances. Well, the lie has come back to bite them in the ass. Nowadays, it's more likely to inspire (unwarranted) panic than confidence.