CBS News Does an About-Face on Home Prices

     For the second straight night in a row, the CBS “Evening News” evaluated what falling home prices mean and it wasn’t good.

     “The prices of homes are falling and there is more evidence tonight that those counting on their houses as their nest eggs may be in trouble,” said Russ Mitchell on the August 26 “Evening News.”

     The next night, “Evening News” examined the consequences of a housing decline on workforce. “The impact of the housing slump goes well beyond buyers and sellers,” said CBS anchor Katie Couric, referring to the mortgage employees laid off.

     However, there was a time when CBS News was complaining about  exactly that result – lower home prices.

     “[E]ven with mortgage rates inching higher, prospective home buyers are anxious to get into the real estate market,” said then-CBS correspondent Trish Regan (who now is employed at CNBC) on the June 15, 2006 CBS “Morning News.” “The only problem – [home] prices are just too expensive. The median home price is already $223,000 and forecast to jump 5.3 percent this year.”

     Compare that to now, where the National Association of Realtors median price is still slightly higher than it was on June 15, 2006 – “The median price for a single family home is currently $223,800,” said CBS correspondent Bianca Solorzano on August 26.

     So what does that mean? In 2006, it meant higher housing costs were driving prices higher. “An ever more expensive housing market is helping to drive inflation upwards. Americans are spending more of their paychecks every month on housing,” said CBS “Morning News” anchor Susan McGinnis.

     Based on CBS News’ logic a year ago, now that housing prices are trending downward, it would be a welcomed sign, right? Not exactly. “With home prices dropping in so many areas, many families could lose a big financial cushion – their home equity,” said Solorzano.

     Moody’s economist Mark Zandi reiterated that for CBS News on August 26.

     “For those home owners who bought in over the last couple or three years, their piggy bank is broke,” said Zandi. “There is no cash there to pull out because house prices have been declining and they have no equity in their home.”

     Either way, according to CBS News, that is – rising housing prices are bad and falling housing prices are bad as well.