The Housing Market is Broken

Christian DeHaemer

Written By Christian DeHaemer

Posted July 9, 2024

The wife and I became empty nesters this year when my youngest graduated from high school, got a job in a printing shop, and was accepted to the University of Maryland Baltimore, Country (UMBC).  Go Retrievers!

Not to bore you with trivia but UMBC is the first 16 seed to beat a number 1 seed in the history of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.

The point is that we are now sitting on a five-bedroom house on three acres in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country.  And despite the high cost of taxes, groceries, and everything else there is little to do here.  If I take one more shirttail relative to see the Washington Monument I’m going to eat a bullet.

It’s a part of the world that is built around schools. Our neighbors are doctors, IT geeks, government workers, and farmers.  And the farmers are selling out to subdivisions of McMansions or fields of solar panels.  I don’t know about you but I’d rather look at a cornfield than a solar field.  No amount of greenwashing can convince me that a giant field of glass and toxic metal is anything but an industrial blight waiting for the next hailstorm.

So, the beautiful brunette and I have been thinking of selling out and moving somewhere. The South of France for the food, Chianti for the pace of life, or El Salvador for the surf.

That said, I realized that I was really an American at heart and had an affinity for the East Coast.  We are also sailers and would like a deep water pier on a nice sailing ground.  Maine perhaps, North Carolina, the Chesapeake, or the Keys.

This got me researching the current state of real estate and I didn’t like what I saw.  We are quickly heading straight into a brick wall like a 16-year-old with a new birthday Beamer.  The real estate market is overvalued in all of those places people moved to during COVID.  Places like Flordia, Texas, and the vacation spots in general.

Take a look at this chart.  The current narrative is that there aren’t enough houses in the U.S.  But total housing units per population is up dramatically.


During the pandemic, home builders used low-interest loans to buy land and build houses primarily in the South.  That’s where there were fewer restrictions and more undeveloped land.

In Austin Texas prices jumped 60% during the pandemic.  Now there is a glut and people who renew their leases are getting discounts.

Mortgage payments as a part of income are at 41% which is higher than the 2007 peak.  But the trend has reversed as prices are coming back down.

There is this idea that once interest rates are cut people will go out and buy houses.

But that isn’t what happens.  The Fed is a backward-looking organization.  They look at trailing indicators.  By the time they start cutting rates, it’s too late.  People have already lost their jobs, their house is in foreclosure, and the divorce paperwork is on the dining room table.

On the flip side, where I live in Maryland, within commuting distance to D.C. the average time a house is on the market is 8 days.  There is one house listed for sale in my zip code, just one.

This housing market is not healthy and it is going to break.  I’m thinking our best bet would be to list the house at some stupid high number, go rent for a year or two, and wait until this thing shakes out. 

All the best,

Christian DeHaemer

Outsider Club