Monday, January 10, 2011

When will housing come back in California?

Five Experts Offer their Views ~

Although the steep decline of home prices in California ended in spring 2009, the weakness in the housing market after the expiration of federal tax credits for home buyers last year has led to some speculation as to whether the recovery is sustainable. Five experts, including Leslie Appleton-Young, the chief economist for the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, were asked to provide their view on the state of real estate and what they think is needed to get the housing market moving again.

• In terms of home prices, the experts differed slightly with the majority predicting that home prices will remain flat throughout 2011. Ms. Appleton-Young predicts home prices will rise 2 percent this year, while a foreclosure expert predicts housing prices to decline 5 percent in 2011.

• According to Ms. Appleton-Young, there is little chance of home prices returning to their previous peak levels anytime soon. "We are in a slow-moving recovery with prices stabilized at the moderate and low end," she said. "We are still seeing price attrition and price softening at the upper ends of the market."

• California’s recovery will hinge on location, according to Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. Areas between El Centro and Sacramento likely will not see a return to peak prices for a long time. However, places like La Jolla, Laguna, Huntington Beach, Atherton, Palo Alto, the city of San Francisco, and Marin County could experience a return to their peak prices within the next five years, according to Mr. Green.

• Foreclosure expert Bruce Norris of the Norris Group believes the market is being artificially boosted by government programs and is set to fall further this year. Mr. Norris believes the demand for housing is most-needed for a sustainable recovery.

• California’s coastal markets will make a return once the job market improves, according to Emile Haddad, chief executive at FivePoint Communities Inc. In turn, that will lift consumer confidence. However, California’s inland areas are more likely to lag behind, and builders will have to reconsider the kind of product they offer in certain places.
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