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Is another housing bubble looming on the horizon?

Published: Sunday, May 19 2013 1:28 p.m. MDT

This Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012, photo, shows an exterior view of a home sold in Palo Alto, Calif. A measure of U.S. home prices jumped 4.6 percent in August compared with a year ago, the largest year-over-year increase in more than six years. CoreLogic, a private real estate data provider, also said Tuesday that prices rose 0.3 percent in August from July, the sixth straight monthly gain.

Paul Sakuma, Associated Press

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The housing market may be on its way to another bubble, according to Bloomberg.com.

Housing prices rose almost 6 percent last year, an unexpected rate that has carried over to this year’s market. In states such as Texas, California and Oregon, housing prices have risen faster than incomes, which has caused some economists to worry.

The Bloomberg piece quoted Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who warned that “if prices keep going up at this rate for another six months, we will have a bubble, and people will get hurt.”

CoreLogic, a California-based financial analytics company, isn’t convinced that another housing bubble is likely to occur anytime soon, however. According to CoreLogic's data, 2012 had the strongest rate of appreciation in nearly seven years, and prices will likely continue to improve in more than 380 U.S. markets.

Dr. David Stiff, CoreLogic’s chief economist, argued, "Even if double-digit price appreciation were to continue in the former bubble metro areas, there is no reason to believe that new home price bubbles are forming.”

Stiff says that single-family homes in former bubble areas are still very affordable, despite last year’s large price gains.

ValueWalk echoes CoreLogic’s skepticism. In an article titled "Housing Bubble Hysteria: Facts Versus Fiction," ValueWalk contends that the recent bubble scare defies common economic sense.

“How can we be having a bubble when lending is still so tight? How can there be a bubble when the largest complaint from potential buyers is that they cannot find inventory? How can we have a bubble when the current sales data is still well below historical norms?”

Trulia, another California-based real estate data company, argues that even if another widespread housing bubble is still unlikely, there remain a handful of cities that are coming dangerously close to bubble territory.

According to Trulia’s data, housing prices in Orange County, Calif., are marked 9 percent higher than their appropriate value, making Orange County the most overvalued housing market and a possible target for market danger.

Other cities with dangerously overvalued prices include the major Texas cities of Austin, San Antonio and Houston.

JJ Feinauer is a graduate of Southern Virginia University and an intern for the Moneywise page on DeseretNews.com. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @johnorjj.

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