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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Everyboby's talkin about it...

And not one knows what they're talkin about...

We're talkin about the housing bust. Is it over? Have we reached bottom? Is the recovery under way? Are the banks about to loose a tsunami of foreclosed "shadow inventory"? Are short sales the way to go? Are short sales dead? Should you sell now or wait? Should you buy now or wait? What the heck is going on?

The truth is that no one knows. Pundits in various parts of the country look at what they can see in their area and make calls about the market. National pundits make national calls and then back off with local caveats. In our area the local market was up significantly in March and April, but the pundits are saying - watch out, it was all an illusion, caused by people rushing to beat the tax rebate deadline. Michigan is still a depressed market with hoe values that continue to fall...unless of course you happen to be in one of the areas where they have stared to rise again.

It's all quite maddening, sort of like watching a Tim Burton movie. This index is up, but that one is down. Consumers are more confident, but not about housing. Mortgage rates are at historic lows, but you can't get a mortgage. Somebody tell Joseph Heller about this Catch-22 market. Maybe he is in Washington these days, writing new HARP/HAFA/HAHA rules...or maybe it just seems that way.

In any event, should you get stuck with someone at a cocktail party (do they still have those these days...maybe a wine tasting party) who asks if you think the housing market is recovering or still going down...just say YES. Whichever view that person holds has at least a 50% chance to be wrong and you can easy provide proof of the opposite point of view. I don't play that game anymore. My stock answer these days is that "it's too early to tell." if pressed for when we'll know for sure if this was the turning point year in the housing crisis, I reply, "In about 4-5 years."

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