Sunday, January 13, 2008

We know, we know -- it's a declining market

There's a great article in the L.A. Times Real Estate section today about the current real estate market. Yes, prices and sales are declining. What makes this article different from others is the experts quoted: Thornberg from UCLA's Anderson school and the Dataquik's Jon Karevoll. These two are widely considered to be experts' experts. Here are a couple of excerpts:
". To hear Christopher Thornberg of Los Angeles consulting firm Beacon Economics tell it, home sellers can expect the bad times to get worse, and to stick around for a while."There will be close to a 30% decline" from the peak, Thornberg said. "Prices will continue to go down in 2008. I think between 2009 and 2011, we will have what you call a 'bleeding phenomenon' where prices stay flat, which means they lose value in real terms." Losing value in real terms occurs when appreciation fails to keep pace with inflation.Thornberg's advice for would-be sellers and those struggling to pay readjusted mortgages: Get out now."If you sit on the sidelines, it is going to get worse," he said. "And if you want to sell your house now, price it down big time."Paying the piperBefore launching Beacon, Thornberg wrote reports for the UCLA Anderson Forecast, which warned as early as 2001 that easy credit was propelling home prices to unsustainable levels. Now, he said, homeowners are paying the price."
And "DataQuick analyst John Karevoll says the uncertain state of the national economy makes forecasting a tricky proposition."Jobs, growth in the economy, interest rates -- all of these things are highly volatile," Karevoll said. "It's almost impossible to make a reliable prediction because of the volatility of these numbers."If the United States manages to avoid a recession, Karevoll said, prices will probably stabilize this summer or autumn -- well short of the 30% decline suggested by Thornberg."First, we have to digest this bad apple we ate with these sub-prime mortgages," he said."
So where does this leave sellers? I think sellers should consider selling only if they have to. If you are happy where you are, if it works for you and your family, consider staying put.

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