Friday, December 28, 2007

Housing: The slow band-aid method

Housing prices are "sticky", meaning that they don't just bounce up and down the way stock prices do. Rather, the housing market corrects itself in a manner that is analogous to slowly and painfully peeling off a band-aid. News reported here in the WSJ suggests however that the traditional slow peel of a housing correction this time may be more like the quick and efficient band-aid rip method. (still painful, but at least the pain comes and goes in a shorter period of time)

Rather than housing prices slowly dropping to eventually reach the bottom in a few years time (some estimates I heard where that we would still be fishing around the bottom as far into the future as 2012) it looks like the decline may be more rapid, possibly bottoming out sometime in 2009.

The obvious follow-on thought is that with a quicker drop, we could begin a quicker recovery. Housing prices going up sooner would relieve pressure on consumers who are currently feeling crushed under the weight of low savings and low housing prices. A rise in 2009 could help bring the economy back from any slowdown (or recession) we are likely to experience in 2008.

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