Housing data released Tuesday was mixed, showing home prices jumped while new home sales dropped, prompting renowned economist Robert Shillerto call the housing recovery positive in the short-term, but not without many headwinds. There might even be a bubble, he said.
“One thing that makes it very hard to forecast home prices right now is that we’re living in a totally artificial real estate economy,” said Shiller, co-creator of the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Index, a widely followed measure of housing prices.
Shiller pointed to the Federal Reserve, which last week reaffirmed its policies on bond purchases and record-low interest rates. In September, the Fed launched a third round of quantitative easing (QE), in which it has bought $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities per month, primarily in mortgage-backed bonds.
Meanwhile, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest U.S. home funding sources, remain in government conservatorship as Congress looks for ways to raise new tax revenues, Shiller noted.
“All of these things are weighing on the futures of housing,” Shiller said on CNBC’s “Futures Now,” adding the recovery might even be a bubble. “One thing you learn from history is that bubbles can occur at any time.”
The Case-Shiller Index on Tuesday soared 8.1 percent compared to a year ago, kicking off the year with the biggest year-over-year increase since 2006. Home prices in the 20 major U.S. cities tracked by the index gained 1 percent in January versus the month prior, topping estimates for a gain of 0.9 percent.