Thursday, September 07, 2006

Economists Say Selling Prices May Stagnate

From the Wall Street Journal:

Housing Slowdown Takes Its Toll

Economists believe cooling in the housing market to extend into next year and many forecasters in the latest survey predict no change -- or an outright decline -- in home prices next year.

Twenty-five of the 48 economists who answered the survey's question about housing predicted no change or a decline in a closely watched gauge of nationwide home prices during 2007. The average prediction for next year was for an increase of 0.43%, lifted by five economists who forecast gains of 5% or more.

The average forecast would leave home-price appreciation well below the expected rate of inflation. Just 27% of the respondents forecast an increase in home prices of greater than 2.7%, which was the economists' average expectation of the year-to-year increase in the Labor Department's consumer-price index for May 2007.

The housing market doesn't move uniformly across the country; some regions or individual cities often have price changes decidedly above or below the national average. But the economists' predictions stand in stark contrast to the red-hot price appreciation seen over recent years.
"The housing correction is just in its early stages now," said Joseph Carson of AllianceBernstein, who forecast a 5% decline for 2007. "Existing home prices have come down to no-change on a year-to-year basis. For new homes, prices are below year-ago levels when you include added features. The prices will have to go lower to give demand a lift in short term."


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