In Depth Analysis: CalculatedRisk Newsletter on Real Estate (Ad Free) Read it here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Merrill Lynch: Housing Prices Poised to Decline

by Calculated Risk on 8/22/2005 11:43:00 AM

Reuters reports:

Prices in the hot U.S. housing market are poised to decline as demand dries up due to the inability of first-time buyers to afford a home, a Merrill Lynch analyst said in a research report on Monday.

"The housing market has become so stretched that the affordability ratio for first-time buyers, the folks who drive the incremental demand in the real estate sector, has deteriorated to levels last seen in the third quarter of 1989," wrote David Rosenberg.

The price of an average starter home in the United States has climbed 14 percent over the past year, while the average income for the first-time buyer family has risen just 4 percent, Rosenberg said, calling that an "unprecedented gap."

In the third quarter of 1989, bids evaporated and new home sales dropped 20 percent the following year in response to lofty prices that first-time buyers could not afford, the analyst said.

The inventory of unsold new homes rose to a 8.4 months' supply from 7.1 months' and that inventory buildup led to a 5.8 percent drop in the median price of a new home, he said.