Summary: I said it! Bill Gross said it (and put his money where his mouth was by selling off all US treasuries)! Common sense says it... Central Bank manipulated interest rates are too low. They will rise. What happens when they rise during a supply glut of real estate, foreclosure issues and a slow economy??? Put it this way... What made the markets crash in 2008: unemployment, slow economy, snow... Or real estate prices getting in touch with reality?

As I sit back and contemplate the content and delivery style that would be best suited for my upcoming keynote speech at the ING Real Estate Valuation Conference in Amsterdam (this is my first presentation to a large group where English is not the primary language), I am bombarded with news bits and bytes that confirm what I've been modeling, warning, fearing and preparing for - for nearly 2 years. That is almost 23 months to the date. What is it, you ask? It is the market's return to the adherence of fundamentals and global macro forces versus following the whims of the concerted efforts of central banks around the world to openly manipulate real asset, equity and bond markets on a global basis.

Really, sit back and think about it. Put some thought into figuring out how difficult it is to successfully manipulate real estate (commercial and residential), stock and bond markets in just one major country. Then give the same thought to how difficult it would be to do the same in nearly all of the developed nations who participated in this crisis. The mere attempt to do so has loaded them up with debt at a time of marginal if not negative GDP and economic upside, a disgruntled populace ripe to ripple from the causes of social unrest rising from the rife economic conditions that the aftermath of incessant bubble blowing has wrought, and last but not least - fundamentally overvalued investment markets.

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I made an appearance on CNBC's Fast Money show yesterday. It was a very short clip on real estate, and the fast moving short clips are not conducive to the communication of the thick, fact heavy style of analysis that is common to BoomBustBlog, and yours truly. Nevertheless I am quite thankful for the opportunity to share my contrarian views in the mainstream media.

Now that I have (quite honestly) issued my most sincerest thanks, let's attempt to remedy the shortcoming of the limited amounted of time that I had. You see, after the 3 minute hit ended there was a brief discussion of commercial real estate in which I didn't get to participate, thus I will take the liberty of doing so through this medium.

Yes, commercial real estate has shown some marginal increases in the last quarter, and REITs have been on fire. The issue is, many publicly traded equities have detached from their underlying fundamentals. Let's reference “A Granular Look Into a $6 Billion REIT: Is This the Next GGP?” The following are excerpts from it:

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Yesterday I notified, . Today I will show specifically how things will get much worse. The numbers came out for new home sales today, and they were atrocious - and that's after a downward adjustment for the previous month's numbers. Follow the chart with the pretty colors below, keeping in mind that many economists believe that new housing construction is a pre-cursor to economic recovery.

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Yes, we are in a balance sheet based, real asset depression. If you take a look at it from an empirical perspective there should be no surprise in this statement, but since most derive their information from the mainstream media media and the sell side of Wall Street (both of whom have a preternatural proclivity for the positive spin) this may come as a bit of a shock to a few. Let's ponder the term "depression" as outlined in Wikipedia with some Reggie edits:

In economics, a depression is a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is a more severe downturnrecession, which is seen by economists as part of the modern business cycle. than a

Well, we have had a severe downturn in real estate in much of the EU, the middle east, the UK, Japan, and definitely the US. See "The Inevitable Has Finally Been Admitted In Europe: The Macro Experiment Has Ignited Inflation Without Commensurate Growth & Rates Will Spike" for a series of graphs that compare real estate markets in several of these countries.

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The Wall Street Journal reports: US housing data may have understated extend of collapse.I can do naught but laugh. Are they serious? Don't they even bother to read BoomBustBlog? The WSJ story goes on to read...

The housing crash may have been more severe than initial estimates have shown.

The National Association of Realtors, which produces a widely watched monthly estimate of sales of previously owned homes, is examining the possibility that it over-counted U.S. home sales dating back as far as 2007.

... The group reported that there were 4.9 million sales of previously owned homes in 2010, down 5.7% from 5.2 million in 2009. But CoreLogic, a real-estate analytics firm based in Santa Ana, Calif., counted just 3.3 million homes sales last year, a drop of 10.8% from 3.7 million in 2009. CoreLogic says NAR could have overstated home sales by as much as 20%.

While revisions wouldn't affect reported home-price numbers, they could show that the housing market faces a bigger overhang in inventory, given the weaker demand.

In December, NAR said that it would take 8.1 months to sell some 3.6 million homes listed for sale at the current pace, but the number of months it would take could be even higher if sales are revised down. Any revisions wouldn't have an impact on homeowners, but it could have consequences for the real-estate industry. Downward revisions would show that "this horrific downturn in the housing market has been even more pronounced than what people thought, and people already thought it was pretty bad," said Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist.

NAR said the data, which are used by economists, investors and the real-estate industry to gauge the health of the housing market, could be revised downward this summer. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, wasn't specific about whether and by how much the revisions could reduce reported sales, and he raised the possibility that the CoreLogic estimates have understated the number of home sales. "This is a very important issue, and we are looking at it carefully right now," Mr. Yun said.

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Last week I posted a comprehensive piece, The Coming Interest Rate Volatility, Sovereign Contagion, Geo-political Unrest & Double-Dip Recessions: Here’s The Answer To Valuing Global Real Estate Through This Mess. The goal was to outline the literal mess that those who decided to drag us through this “Great Global Macro Experiment”have left us in. Since then, in merely one week's time, we have bore witness to:

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The Harlem Community Development Corporation and AAREPNY hosted a breakfast symposium on real estate last Thursday in which I was the keynote speaker. The audience consisted of bankers, developers, investors, lawyers... the usual fare. I fear I may have rained on the optimism parade with my presentation, but I also feel a few salient points were communicated. I have included portions of the presentation here for the blog readers to peruse. One of the main themes of the presentation was that of "lost decades". How likely is it that we can have 20 more years of housing price declines? Note: The "74%" reference below is a typo, the Japanese residential index did not drop that far.

Let's see if any of this sounds familiar, as excerpted from Wikipedia:

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If you recall from my earlier rants on the Case Shiller index, one of its most glaring flaws is that it doesn't capture condo prices, which are a material component of housing stock in NYC and many major urban centers - see The Real Trend in US Housing Prices… It appears as if someone over there was listening, S&P now publishes a condo specific index, although that index too has many of the flaws of the CS single family index - see "Those Who Blindly Follow Housing Prices Without Taking Other Metrics Into Consideration Are Missing the Housing Depression of the New Millennium" and “

Well, NYC, according to the S&P Case Shiller Condo index, is the only major US condo market that not only has firming prices but is actually increasing in price. Chatter and anecdotal evidence from the ground confirms this as developers and speculators are once again bidding up development land, lots and potential conversion properties.

The interactive version - drag the time line at the bottom of the graph to alter the perspective...

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Summary: Except for a few metric blips borne from .gov bubble blowing, the housing market has been on a continuous nosedive since 2nd half of 2006. Anyone unfortunate enough to buy into the nonsense mis/dis/information styled propaganda of "This is the best time to buy" or the government's incentives to catch a falling knife with your bare hands (ex. tax incentives) have already been cut...

The residential real estate situation is still looking quite bleak. The downturn (actually, the continuation of the earlier downturn - they were not two separate events) that I forecast last year has come, and come with a vengeance. If we may reminisce, the mainstream media was overrun with optimistic housing forecasts, primarily as a result of some minor metric upticks born from incessant .gov bubble blowing. From my post of June 22nd last year - As I Made Very Clear In March, US Housing Has a Way to Fall

From Bloomberg, early in the morning you get the usual, inaccurate analyst chatter: Sales of Existing Homes in U.S. Probably Climbed on Tax Credit

Sales of U.S. previously owned homes rose in May to the highest level in six months as buyers rushed to beat a June tax-credit deadline, economists said before a report today.

Purchases of existing houses, which are tabulated when a contract closes, increased 6 percent to a 6.12 million annual rate, according to the median of 73 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. To receive a government incentive worth as much as $8,000, buyers must have signed contracts by the end of April and need to complete deals by the end of this month.

Credit-induced gyrations will make the underlying health of the market difficult to determine over the next couple of months. A slump in builder shares since early May signals investors are concerned the damage caused by the end of government stimulus, mounting foreclosures and unemployment will exceed the benefits of lower mortgage rates.

Then the actual report comes out: Existing Home Sales in U.S. Unexpectedly Fell to 5.66 Million Rate in May

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Another stint on Max Keiser discussing topics such as Goldman's Facebook offering that never was, what happens when its the banks that walk away from a home, phantom banking profits that never were, and more shenanigans that are the tour de force that is today's banking system and economy. To skip directly to the Reggie Middleton interview, move to 11:55 in the video.

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