Steve Cortes: Don’t Buy Into Housing Rally Yet

Despite recent bullish sentiment on the housing sector, contrarian trader Steve Cortes isn’t buying it.

“I am short the homebuilders on spread versus the S&P,” Cortes said Thursday on “Fast Money.”

Recently, such big names as Bill Ackman, Robert Shiller and Warren Buffett have sounded positive that the housing sector had nowhere to go but up. But Cortes pointed to predictions that housing wouldn’t experience a double-dip, which turned out to be wrong.

“Warren Buffett has been bullish wrongly on housing for two years,” he said, opting instead to bet that the homebuilders ETF, XHB, would underperform the broader market.

One key indicator for the bearish view, Cortes said, is the decline in lumber, copper and aluminum in recent months, as XHB rallied some 35 percent.

“When those key building materials are down, that tells me that the builders have had a bit on an excessive run to the upside. I think housing goes lower from here,” he said, admitting, “I liked this position much better on Tuesday than I do today.”



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Trader Stephen Weiss noted an important distinction.

“You have to separate what Buffett’s saying and others are saying about buying single-family homes and buying housing stocks,” he said. “Housing is clearly ahead of itself.”

Especially with foreclosures still working through the system, the home builder sector faces serious challenges.

Weiss added, “Why buy them when they’re going to be at a premium to the ones that are still going to come out of foreclosure?”

Trader Brian Stutland said he would play the housing rally another way, opting for PFF, an ETFof preferred shares.

“I’d rather own preferred shares in those bank stocks, which I think are going to provide a lower volatility, a nice return, a little bit of a yield on those types of names,” he said.

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Trader disclosure: On March 8, 2012, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders: Najarian is long AAPL; Najarian is long C; Najarian is long WFC; Najarian is long INTC; Najarian is long YHOO; Najarian is long JOYG; Najarian is long COP; Najarian is long PEP; Najarian is long HPQ; Weiss is short AAPL puts; Weiss is long JPM; Weiss is long GMCR; Weiss is long HPQ; Weiss is long TBF; Weiss is long QCOM; Weiss is long BRCM; Weiss is short FCX; Weiss is short ANR; Stutland Volatility Group is market maker holding hedged positions in VIX futures and options; Stutland is short TLT puts; Stutland is long TIPS; Stutland is GE long stock and short calls; Stutland is NLY short put spread; Stutland is DBA long stock and short calls; Stutland is short DIA puts;

For Willie Williams
No disclosures

For Toni Sacconaghi
Bernstein currently makes a market in the following companies AAPL / Apple Inc, DELL / Dell Inc.

Accounts over which Bernstein and/or their affiliates exercise investment discretion own more than 1% of the outstanding common stock of the following companies HPQ / Hewlett Packard.

For Andy Barish
(MCD) I, Andy Barish, certify that all of the views expressed in this research report accurately reflect my personal views about the subject security(ies) and subject company(ies). I also certify that no part of my compensation was, is, or will be, directly or indirectly, related to the specific recommendations or views expressed in this research report.

For Whitney Tilson
T2 Partners is long HHC