real estate
Market a real fixer-upper

3. 2008 outlook 
Most statistical indicators show 2008 won't likely be much better.

"I am not really excited about the outlook. Not until late '08 or '09 at the earliest," Goodkin says. "And even then, when the real estate market does come back, it won't be where it left off. We will probably be looking at a landscape that is 30 percent or more below its peak of '05."

Yun says he sees at least stabilization on the horizon.

"I don't see sales falling much from this point," he says.

He says most subprime mortgages have already left the market either through foreclosure or through quick sales, and he says a stimulus package on its way from Congress has the potential to give housing a bump. Plus, Yun says, a renewed interest in loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration will likely give lower-income buyers and people with dinged-up credit a way to buy in to the market.

Goodkin isn't as optimistic. "I would bet that 'more of the same' is perhaps an understatement. Things could even worsen,"

Simonson agrees that a bottom to the market isn't on the immediate horizon. "My gut says no. I don't see any catalysts for a reversal in the market," he says. "Interest rates can't go lower. Credit markets won't open up in any big way. We are looking at a questionable economy rather than looking at coming out of an economic slump."

4. When will it turn? 
"It was a hell of a ride on the way up, and it will be a hell of a ride coming back down," Seiders says.

In its latest analysis, the NAR predicts another 5 percent drop by the end of the year. The Realtors see an even bleaker for new homes, predicting an 18 percent price loss for 2008.

"The numbers for new homes are down more than 50 percent from their high two years ago, and that needs to decline even further," Yun says. "We already have a high inventory, and the last thing we need is to add on more inventory."

Most analysts agree with the general assessment that 2008 will be the fourth year in a row to see falling prices.

"We expect prices will decline, possibly even into 2010," Porter says. "We already have seen new home prices fall much more rapidly because builders need them off their books and they have deeper pockets and can afford to write it off."

He says the downturn may take longer on the homeowner side, though.

"Homeowners aren't quite ready to give up the equity they believe they have," he says. "They know the home down the road sold for $400,000 a year ago, and they can't adjust to the idea that they can't get the same thing for their home today."

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"One thing about pricing is there is so much local variation," Yun says. "The national number may not be as hopeful as the local markets, where there are some relatively strong markets still."

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