Housing bubble is about to pop

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2003

The housing industry has almost single-handedly been holding up the nation’s economy. While most other factors show things are going down the toilet – rising unemployment, deflation, a stagnant stock market – housing continues to boom.

Prices have risen astronomically, particularly locally. Housing prices in Suffolk border on obscene. Cheaply built, slab homes are fetching 20 and 30 percent more than what people paid for them barely two years ago. In many cases, homes in Suffolk are selling for more than what they are being put on the market for because people are bidding up the prices.

I hate to be a messenger of doom and gloom, but that’s all about to come to a screeching halt. The party is over.

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&uot;How could he possibly know this?&uot; You ask. Good question.

I could go into a lot of egg-headed economic theory about how sky-rocketing federal deficits are going to put pressure on interest rates to go up, or the proliferation of anti-depressant medications has numbed people into thinking that the house they are buying is actually worth what they are paying for it, but those are not the reasons. Economics is, at best, guesswork. My prediction is based on solid, inescapable, scientific data.

I’m buying a house.

My wife and I seem to have this cloud hanging over us where things financial are concerned. Throughout the past 17 years of our marriage, everything we’ve touched has turned from gold to tin. I’ve had to move around the country a good bit in this business and have owned six homes. The best I’ve ever done on a transaction was about break even and have actually sold a couple homes for less than what we paid, simply to get out from under it. I have no reason to think things will be different this time.

We’re sinking everything we can scrape together into a house that is on the outer reaches of what we can afford. We figure we eat too much, anyway, and that if we cut back to two or maybe one and a half meals a day made up primarily of rice, we might be able to make ends meet. The kids can forget about college.

We’re closing on the property at the end of this month. I figure by December, deflation will have a stranglehold on the economy, interest rates will soar to double digits, dust bowl conditions will develop, millions of Americans will be riding boxcars from town to town looking for work, we’ll elect a Democrat president and Mongolian hordes will overrun the country, causing housing values to plummet.

I’m giving you all fair warning, if you’ve got any sense, you’ll sell your house now while prices are high. I’m serious. The storm clouds are on the horizon.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.