As the housing market moved steadily higher during the middle of the last decade, you may recall that its boosters at the time dismissed any talk that a bubble might be inflating nationwide. There was no such thing as a national housing market, they promised; housing consisted of thousands of local markets, each of which was driven by its own local economies. Atlanta was different from Cleveland, which was different from Las Vegas. And while this market or that might weaken from time to time, they all wouldn’t go down at once. So don’t worry. There was no chance of a national housing collapse.
Wrong! The unique feature of the early 2000s housing market was that, for once, prices really did rise to idiotic levels from sea to shining sea. Whereupon everything went all to hell.
Given that, it’s nice to occasionally see, as evidence housing might be stabilizing and ready to recover, signs the market local-ifying again. This is from the Boston Globe:
ATHOL–How far have home values dropped in this Central Massachusetts town? The answer sounds like the punch line to a joke, but no one is laughing: They’ve eroded so much that you can buy a house for about the cost of a Toyota Camry.
“If [prices] go much lower, they will be giving them away,” said Matt Tarlin, an investor from Needham who has bought three homes in Athol and nearby Orange, where values are similarly depressed, and houses sell for as low as $20,000. . . .
The small town’s predicament illustrates how the housing market’s collapse hit less affluent communities harder than Massachusetts as a whole. Now, even as prices in wealthier parts of the state – including Brookline and Cambridge – move above the market’s ceiling of seven years ago, Athol, Orange, and places like them remain in a malaise. [Emph. added]
So in Massachusetts, home prices in the central part of the state are still stuck at rock-bottom while in Brookline and Cambridge they’ve topped their old highs. That sounds plenty local to me. .