Housing Fever Can Work Both Ways

… Most people seem to know that social epidemics are occurring, at least at some level. In fact, the term “going viral” has been going viral itself. A Google Trends search confirms that the phrase has taken off in the last few years. It is possible to go deeper — to ask what people are thinking, and infer something about the social epidemics that drive the economy.

Karl Case, of Wellesley College, and I have been trying to do that for over a decade. We have conducted an annual mail survey of home buyers for years, with a total now of nearly 5,000 completed questionnaires. The survey, supported by the Yale School of Management, has covered the years leading up to the 2006 peak in home prices, and the years of disappointment thereafter. [cont.]

Robert J. Shiller, Yale (New York Times)