I can’t do New Year’s predictions. It takes enough arrogance to write about markets and economics, but predict the future? In the words of Peter Drucker, America’s best-ever business thinker: “Nobody can predict the future — the idea is a firm grasp of the present.” That said, it is possible to evaluate probabilities.
On Monday this week, realtor.com sent a market update to all media, hoping as always for maximum coverage. I know it’s a slow news week, skeleton staffs trying to generate something to keep bosses off backs, but … this? “Realtor.com First Look: December Is Cooler and Slower.”
Last week, the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) reported that American seniors held $5.76 trillion in home equity at the end of the third quarter of 2015 — which, according to NRMLA, “rocketed the NRMLA/RiskSpan Reverse Mortgage Market Index to an all-time high of 200.19,” according to a release sent by the company. Because the source for the data is NRMLA, we should be careful.
The National Association of Realtors’ monthly series on sales of existing homes should come with a data-translating thesaurus. NAR does not mean to mislead, but I think its data format conceals reality. The data are useful, but only as a broad, multi-month guide to trends.