The real estate writers for the Seattle P-I apparently aren't capable of leaving well enough alone. Even when they print an Associated Press wire report about the serious housing slowdown underway across the nation, they just have to slip in a "but not in Seattle" clause (P-I addition italicized).
The "For Sale" signs are staying out longer. House prices are easing as sellers try to lure in buyers.I wouldn't mind so much if the talking points were something like "...but Seattle has not yet seen as much slowing as elsewhere." It would get a little old after a while, but at least it would be an accurate statement of fact. But instead, the local media's line is almost uniformly "Seattle isn't slowing now, and we're completely immune to any serious slowdown, ever." Prices may fall significantly, but not in Seattle. It's just not possible.
The big question now: Will the nation's five-year housing boom turn into a devastating bust that could derail the overall economy?
"We recognize the risk ... and we are watching it very carefully," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress recently.
"So far, the correction in housing has been orderly, but there is a significant risk that this orderly correction could become more chaotic," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.
"The housing market has been driven by euphoric optimism about future house price growth. That could quickly change to dark pessimism, and we could see sales and prices fall much more than expected," Zandi said.
That may be true nationally, but Seattle and the rest of Washington area continue to see double-digit growth in home prices, although there are more homes on the market than a year ago, according to the latest data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Really what it boils down to is a local manifestation of the prevailing national sentiment reported on back in April.
...71% of consumers say it is likely that a housing bubble and collapse of prices could occur in the United States within the next year. Twenty-four percent say such a housing bubble is not likely. In contrast, a much smaller number of consumers, 32%, expect the collapse of a housing bubble within their own area in the next year, and 65% say it is not likely.You'd like to think that the people that bring us our news would be more objective than the obviously fickle American public, or that they would at least set their biases aside and just report the facts, but clearly that just isn't the case.
(Martin Crutsinger, Associated Press, 08.10.2006)
(additions by: Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I)