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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

House Prices: Goldman sort of Calls the Bottom

by Calculated Risk on 7/03/2012 08:50:00 PM

Goldman Sachs put out a research note today: House Prices Finding a Bottom. This isn't a strong call, and is only a slight upward revision to their previous forecast. As they note, there are many factors adding to the "noise" in the house price indexes (distressed sales, foreclosure moratorium, recent warm weather), and a 0.2% increase in prices over the next year isn't much.

A few brief excerpts:

[O]ur model projects a nominal house price gain of 0.2% from 2012Q1 to 2013Q1 and another 1.4% from 2012Q1 to 2013Q1. Taken literally, this would imply that the bottom in nominal house prices is now behind us.

While the recent house price news is encouraging, we would not yet sound the "all clear" for the housing market or the broader economy. First, the instability in the seasonal factors over the past few years is a potential source of noise in the recent house price indicators, and also in our model. ... In addition, the seasonal factors can be also distorted by one-off items ... All of these complications ... adds to the uncertainty as to whether the better recent numbers indicate a true turnaround in the US housing market.

Second, even if the market is gradually turning, as our model implies, the difference between a slightly declining and a slightly increasing national average for home prices is minor, especially given the wide variation between stronger and weaker markets. Our broad view remains that national home prices will remain close to flat over the next 1-2 years, or at a minimum that the recovery will remain very "U-shaped."