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A little dramatic to say that the home prices have another 50% to fall or that we are headed toward a Japan-style deflationary period. The United States has a strong nonfinancial sector and businesses have reacted through layoffs and expense cuts. Japan has a negative output gap. The goal of the tax credit was an attempt to match supply of homes with demand. It will spread losses from the mortgage market to all constituencies involved, including the taxpayer, as opposed to concentrating them solely on homeowners and banks. The imbalance of market forces which cause things such as bankruptcies and acquisitions of U.S. assets to foreigners is what the government attempts to protect. I don't disagree with an attempt to do this, though I question how much bang for the buck that a $20 billion dollar price manipulation effort got us. What the American consumer wants is not necessarily a handout from the Federal Government, but rather accountability of the unscrupulous actions from those in the industry through a price concessions rolled into the purchase. Perhaps, there could be a way to force agents to pitch some of their commissions into the deal, or make it easier for FSBO and buyers without agents to transact. If there was a way to clear many of the agents/players out who were in full force in 2005-2007, then perhaps individuals would be interested in buying homes once again. Demand will come back, but we'll have to wait a little bit longer until those sitting on the sideline enter the market. The household debt/service ratio is signaling that we're at early 2005 levels -- and as the private sector continues to add jobs and wages increase, things should turn around sooner than the bears would like to admit (or the NAR if their goal is to obtain another Gov't handout). However, while sentiment on the direction of interest rates continue to be lower, no one is going to jump the gun. Any repeat-sales index incorporating short-sales or foreclosures have not hit the bottom, which will be another 5-10%. For those that hate all of the players in the housing mess, one piece of good news today. Habitat for Humanity is now one of the top homebuilders in the U.S. market.
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