How to Miss the Housing Crash

A reader emailed in asking me if the timing model would work for housing. I actually wrote an article on a beta allocation to housing and/or hedging your home value about a year ago. There are a couple housing ETFs coming to market (UMM – MacroShares Major Metro Housing Up & DMM – MacroShares Major Metro Housing Down.) Currently there are futures trading on housing (although they have really low volume last I checked).

The conclusions were:

1) Including housing in your strategic asset allocation probably makes sense (possibly as a portion of the real estate allocation).
2) The timing model works for housing as well.

When I wrote the article (June 2007 data), both of the composite indexes were on sell signals. 13 of the 20 cities tracked were on a sell signal already. Had you exited the composite when the model flashed sell (October 2006), you would have avoided the 20%+ decline in home values. Below are the dates (using July 2008 data) for when the timing model would have sold some individual markets:

Los Angeles: 1/2007
San Diego: 10/2006
San Francisco: 10/2006
Denver: Currently long
D.C.: 9/2006
Miami: 4/2007
Tampa: 11/2006
Chicago: 2/2007
Boston: 11/2007
Charlotte: Currently long
Las Vegas: 12/2006
NYC: 10/2006
Cleveland: 11/2006
Portland: 12/2007

Here is the equity curve for the timing system on the housing composite back to 1987. This does not include interest on cash balances, which would up the return a bit. Similar to the timing model on virtually every asset class, it is long roughly 70% of the time.