"We're stoking up a huge bubble. It's quite extraordinary. We virtually ruined the Western world by having high house price inflation and now we're determined to do it again," he said.
On the face of it, the reacceleration in U.S. house prices spells trouble.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median home value at the height of the bubble, in July 2006, was $230,400. In July 2011, the median price was 25.7 percent below that peak. By July this year, it had climbed back to within 7.3 percent of the high water mark.
Yet some of the engines of the price recovery are spluttering. Most importantly, mortgage rates have risen as markets anticipate an end to the Federal Reserve's bond buying.
Robert Shiller, the co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, said higher borrowing costs could limit U.S. house price gains in 2014 to roughly 6 percent. The index rose 12.8 percent in the 12 months to August.
(Read more: US home prices rise in Aug, yearly gain best since 2006: S&P/Case-Shiller)
"The U.S. market might be cooling," Shiller told Reuters. "I think prices will keep going up for a while. There is still momentum, but it may fade and turn down in the next year or two."
Higher interest rates are also causing cash buyers to pull back. According to Goldman Sachs, in 2012 and the first half of 2013 fully 60 percent of home purchases were all-cash transactions—double the pre-crash figure—as Wall Street and foreign investors swooped in on distressed markets.
Family buyers are taking up some of the slack. But the speculative frenzy that marked the go-go years of the mid-2000s is missing. Banks have tightened mortgage standards, while the jobless rate is a lofty 7.2 percent and wages are stagnant.
In Las Vegas, prices have rebounded 29.2 percent in the past year, but Gregory Smith, a local real-estate agent, said the market was now cooling off.
"More families are starting to get their offers accepted, as the investors retreat. These are real buyers who intend to stay in the homes long-term. We are in a flattening-out phase," he said.
(Read more: Housing's top 'turnaround' markets may surprise you)
All about incomes
To assess property market risk, house prices need to be gauged in relation to income.
Whereas the U.S. price-to-income ratio at the end of 2012 stood at 84.3, measured against a rolling long-run average of 100, the ratio in Canada was at a 10-year high of 131.7, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Moreover, Canada's debt-to-income ratio reached a record high of 163.4 percent in the second quarter.
"Debt is at record levels, and we know consumers are biting off more than they can chew financially, so does this lead to more problems down the road?" asked Laurie Campbell, chief executive at Credit Canada, a credit counseling agency.
(Read more: Bubble watch: Shiller discusses home-price surge)
The same question is being asked across Asia. As mortgage rates return to pre-crisis averages, monthly housing payments in most Asian countries will rise by 15 percent to 25 percent, according to David Carbon, an analyst with DBS, a Singaporean bank.
But he said Asia's housing debt as a percentage of GDP remains much lower than in America. And home prices in Asia are now 22 percent lower, relative to incomes, than in 2000.
"By this gauge, Asia has little to fear on the property front—homes are become more affordable, not more expensive," Carbon wrote in recent report.
Even in China, prices are 40 percent more affordable on average than in 2000, according to DBS.
But the average masks vast discrepancies in China, where the government is concerned about a bubble and the potential for social unrest as inequality over access to housing grows.
Prices nationwide rose on average by 9.1 percent in the year to September but surged 16 percent in Beijing and 17 percent in Shanghai.
"There are overheating signs in Tier 1 cities. The central government should take some measures, at least including stricter implementation of existing measures," said Wang Juelin, a former senior housing ministry researcher.
Demand by Chinese buyers has helped boost Hong Kong prices by 120 percent since 2008.
Hong Kong responded last October with a 15 percent tax on overseas buyers and in February imposed higher stamp duties and home loan curbs.
As a result, the premiums for new homes over existing homes that developers seek has shrunk to about 20 percent from 50 percent to 80 percent, according to Thomas Lam, head of research for Greater China at real estate firm Knight Frank.
Pre-emptive strike and bottlenecks
Singapore has also increased stamp duties and capped how much people can borrow relative to their income. New Zealand has clamped down on mortgage lending.
In Australia, house prices rose 5.8 percent in the year to mid-September, but Phil Chronican, ANZ Bank's local chief executive, said concern about a bubble was overstated, partly because the market had been subdued for so long.