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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

NY Times' Leonhardt on House Prices

by Calculated Risk on 4/21/2009 10:09:00 PM

From David Leonhardt at the NY Times: For Housing Crisis, the End Probably Isn’t Near

Note: See article for graphic on house prices to median income by city.

... I decided to go to an auction at a hotel ballroom in Washington — and to study the results of several others elsewhere — with an eye to figuring out whether prices may now be close to bottoming out.
The winning bid on the first home auctioned off, a two-bedroom townhouse in Virginia Beach, was $115,000. Just last July, it sold for $182,000, according to property records. A four-bedroom brick house with a two-car garage in Upper Marlboro, Md., went for $375,000. Last year, it sold for $563,000.
Leonhardt provides other auction examples, and concludes prices are still falling sharply:
[T]he great real estate crash is not over, either. So if you are part of the 30 percent of American households who rent and you’re trying to decide when to buy, relax.

The market is still coming your way.
As I've noted before, most housing busts have two bottoms; the first bottom will be for residential investment (RI), and the second will be for existing home prices. The second bottom will come later, possibly much later. We haven't even seen the bottom for RI yet!

Given the huge excess supply, especially of distressed properties, I think Leonhardt is correct that prices will continue to fall.