The wait for tenants may be a long one. It’s much harder to get a loan these days for all but the best borrowers. Borrowers, for the most part, now must put more money down, document their income and assets, have few dings against their credit worthiness and show that they can afford the payments. Those tightened lending restrictions eliminate potential buyers from the market, reducing demand even as more supply hits the listings due to big jumps in foreclosures and builders finishing up projects initiated before the slump took hold.
What does the current data show about the real estate market overall? Across the country in the last year the median price has actually increased slightly. It looks like the data for the calendar year 2007 will show a decline for about 2%. Some areas have been much harder hit with median prices dropping over 10% (Las Vegas, Florida, Phoenix…). Mortgages any of 1) questionable credit score 2) jumbo loan or to a lessor extent with little money down are becoming hard to come by. Foreclosures are increasing dramatically. Builders are having a great deal of difficulty selling new housing they have built.
Still the decline in median prices is far from as dramatic as many feel (there have been large changes in the market but it still has not lead to a crash in home values or even a noticeable decline in most places). The increasing supply of houses for sale will put pressure on housing prices to decline. But without a significant continued increase in foreclosures (which is possible but it is still difficult to predict how large an increase we will see) I still do not believe we will see dramatic price declines in most of the country. The possibility (of say declines of over 15% in a year or two) is much higher now than it was in the last couple of years.
Post from 2004 on the real estate bubble worries then – again prices would have to fall a great deal to fall below the prices in 2004 (possible but not very likely to happen in the coming years). The real estate problems are significant and pose a danger to the economy (they certainly are already decreasing economic growth) however that is much different than a crash in housing prices. And as bad as the credit markets have been and rising foreclosures, increased housing inventory the anticipated crash in prices has still not been seen nationwide – and I stand by my belief we won’t see it. Though I will admit less confidently than at any time so far – I would hedge my bet on this prediction at this point (if I actually had bet any money on that prediction – I have no desire to sell any of my 401k money invested in real estate, my rental property or my house).