Housing Bear Predicts a Rough 2019

James Stack, who forecast the 2008 real estate crash as well as last year’s housing slowdown, says that “housing could be heading for its worst year since the last housing crash,” according to a recent article in Bloomberg.

Stack warned: “Expect home sales to continue on a downward trend in the next 12-plus months. And there’s a significant downside risk to housing prices if a recession takes hold.”

Last January, the article reports, “Stack was practically alone when he warned rising mortgage rates would expose housing’s affordability problem,” after which “homebuilder shares began a 10-day slide and ended the year down by more than a third.” Today, according to Stack, “the signs of coming distress in property markets—and the broader economy—are only increasing.” The article cites the fact that home purchase contracts in the U.S. fell by 7.7% in November (according to a National Association of Realtors index) and consumer confidence dipped in December. He argues that even if mortgage rates level off or ease a bit this year, “we are unlikely to see the psychology turn around. Homebuyers have woken up to the fact that affordability is a major issue.”

Stack says it’s too early to know if housing is in another bubble, and a lot depends on what happens with the economy. “Unfortunately,” Stack warns, “bubbles are only recognized with 100 percent certainty in 20/20 hindsight.”