Home Sales Even Worse Than Reported Says the Primary Agency That Reports Them

Far fewer homes have been sold over the past five years than previously estimated, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

That's from a CNNMoney.com report by Blake Ellis.

While NAR hasn't revealed exactly how big the revision to home sales will be, the agency's chief economist Lawrence Yun said the decrease will be "meaningful." ...

Yun said the database NAR uses to track existing home sales, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), has led the real estate agency to over-count existing home sales for several reasons.

The MLS database only includes home sales listed by realtors, and excludes homes listed by owners, providing a very narrow view of the market. And because more people are using realtors to list their homes instead of selling them independently, realtor-listed sales numbers have become artificially inflated, said Yun.

I cannot make sense of that last paragraph; can anyone else?

FWIW, back in 2007 we ran a Quorum on this blog asking the question "Is it time to believe in the housing bubble?" Lawrence Yun was one of the respondents:

Will China Need a New Debt Ceiling Too?

I don't know enough about the Chinese economy -- or the U.S. economy, for that matter -- to say just how big a deal this is, but I sense it's potentially pretty big:

China said local governments owe debt equal to more than a fourth of the country's economic output, the first time Beijing has put a number on such debt, fueling fears banks could again face mountains of bad loans and underlining the limits Beijing faces as it battles inflation.

The National Audit Office said Monday that local-government debts total some 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.65 trillion), or 27% of China's gross domestic product last year. The report Monday was billed as a comprehensive tally of such debt, much of which was incurred during a two-year stimulus-spending binge ordered by Beijing to fight the effects of the global recession.

Some analysts say the National Audit Office's figure failed to count certain kinds of local government debt, meaning the actual total could be even higher.

Either way, the figure released Monday affirms analysts' belief that the true level of China's government debt is considerably higher than has been acknowledged by the Finance Ministry, which puts just the central government's debt at 17% of GDP without taking into account local governments' debt.

The Great Baseball Card Bubble

Dave Jamieson's new book (excerpted at Slate) covers the history of the baseball card, including the baseball card bubble of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Bubble Science

Gary Stix looks at recent developments in the science of human decision-making and economic bubbles. Stix examines the growing influence of behavioral economists, the neuroscience behind various economic phenomena, and the research of George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler (), and Andrew Lo.

Truth in Advertising

By jingo, what a boom it was! So much so that I just noticed a local Philly contractor, perhaps more honest than most, who named his business “Bubble Builders.” In a sign of the times, I haven't seen a single customer enter over the past few months.

With the housing bubble now truly behind us, you might imagine that Bubble Builders either needs a new name or a new line of business. What would you recommend?

Freakonomics Quorum: Is It Time to Believe in the Housing Bubble?

Barbara Corcoran, Robert Shiller, N.A.R. chief economist Lawrence Yun and others discuss whether housing bubbles exist (and, if so, whether we're in one)