Don't be fooled into thinking that if you can just hold on another few months the choppy seas will calm and smooth sailing will return. The storm is nowhere near over.
If you are building condos in Miami right now, you're probably worried. If you're just getting into Charlotte, N.C., or the coastal Carolinas, you're probably in for a rocky 2008. But if your business is focused on a smaller market, particularly in the South or Midwest where home values never shot up, then you're probably okay. Still, some of those markets are now feeling the credit and sales pinch.
On the whole, house prices are down and will go down further. According to the inaugural housing report from former Credit Suisse managing director and now-founder and CEO of Zelman and Associates, Ivy Zelman, supply/demand imbalance in housing will stabilize in 2010 or 2011. Home prices will likely decline for the next four or five years in most major markets, with nominal price declines of 12 percent to 15 percent over that span.
Read on for a breakdown of the country's housing forecast by region.
South: Sweet Home Alabama
Florida saw some of the biggest run ups in price and will see many of its markets encountering long slides to ride out. Condos in Miami are at a three-year supply and growing. There are still cranes there, and high-rises still going up.
The condo and second-home market in the Sunshine State is heavily geared towards investors and discretionary buyers and is hurting Miami most of all, says John Burns, president of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, in Irvine, Calif. Oversupply is particularly bad in Miami, as is affordability, but the biggest problem is the nature of the targeted buyer, Burns says.
"Even real second-home buyers wait until they think it will be a good investment to buy a second home," he says. "So, they're going to come back last. Probably 2012."
Primary-home markets in Florida will fare better, but will not be unaffected by adjustable rate mortgage resets, Burns says. Starting with Orlando in 2009, markets will begin to stabilize and prices will begin increasing again. Ft. Lauderdale, Miami (not condos), and then Tampa will follow. Areas such as Naples, Ft. Myers, and other second-home hot beds will come back much later, Burns says.
Larger North and South Carolina markets, even along the coasts, did well in 2006 and early 2007, but because of flocking builders, have too much inventory and are due for trouble, Burns says.
"The market is oversupplied, and [builders] are going to feel the effects of the subprime fallout," he says, noting that the primary-housing markets are likely to see slow declines for the next three years.
Atlanta, the country's largest market in 2005, is in the throes of the downturn, fueled by oversupply and a host of adjustable rate loans that could reset and result in foreclosures. But the city's strong economy will help it stabilize more quickly than other areas, Burns says.
The smaller southern markets are a different animal, says Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft. Land has appreciated, but at a much slower pace, and is still much less
expensive. "So houses tend to be more affordably priced, compared to the real hot markets, and the housing market as a whole has held up a lot better," Nothaft says. "Some states have seen home sales hold steady or even edge up over the past year. It's a very different picture for the South compared to the southern half of Florida and some of the other hot markets we've heard about for the last three or four years."
Southwest: Lack of Skyrocketing Land Values a Plus
Texas was strong through 2006 and into 2007, and Austin and San Antonio have remained solid thanks to the energy industry and strong job markets, says First American CoreLogic director of research and analytics Christopher Cagan.
"You're going to see the number of permits decline in Texas, and the margins fall," says Burns, who also believes the local economies are very strong.
Burns does not believe builders in Texas will be able to raise prices for the next two years but does not see prices falling dramatically either, unless builders start discounting aggressively to boost sales velocity or the oil industry experiences a correction, Burns says.
Nothaft says some of the worst markets are Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Scottsdale, Ariz., where home values and supply overshot their economic fundamentals. Still, he projects improvement in late 2008.
Burns is not so hopeful in the short-term for Las Vegas, but believes it will be solid in the long-term. Despite a strong economy and good job growth, affordability is a major problem in Las Vegas.
"People that make $40,000 per year can't afford a $300,000 home," Burns says. And homes were even pricier than that at the peak. "The market was also full of investors and full of subprime borrowers, so I believe you're going to see a 15 percent-plus price correction in resale prices in Las Vegas over the next two years to get the payments back in line with what people can afford."
Phoenix, and to a lesser extent Tucson, have outlying area oversupply issues. These areas won't be back until 2012, Burns says. The inner areas will find their bottom in 2008 and be on the mend in 2009. Burns sees the same timeline for Scottsdale.
Albuquerque, N.M., has remained relatively stable, says Lance Ramella, senior managing director for Hanley Wood Market Intelligence.
"Permits have 'only' dropped about 16 percent through June, and job growth is still relatively strong," Ramella says. "Prices have remained stable, although affordability is somewhat of an issue."