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Will home prices ever hit bottom?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 12, 2011 07:03 AM

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OK, I'll take a shot at this: Later this year in Greater Boston and 2012 for the rest of the state.

That, anyway, was the consensus that emerged yesterday during a chat about the local real estate market I took part in on WBUR's daily local news show, Radio Boston.

Chip Case, the retired Wellesley College professor, offered a pretty detailed analysis of the national trends and statewide - I did my best to offer a more micro-local perspective.

I am drawing upon Fiserv for my prediction - which I am already beginning to regret as I write this. Fiserv and Moody's Analytics are predicting a bottoming out nationally in prices during the third quarter.

Still, the national economy is finally picking up and the Boston area is leading the pack, so that should provide a backstop to prevent a complete free fall in home prices.

And while we have our share of foreclosures, it hardly compares to what markets like Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas have been slammed with.

Conversely, as you go farther west, to Worcester and beyond, home prices have fallen more steeply and unemployment is higher, so the real estate recovery is likely to be slower. The number of foreclosures also rises as you head west on the Turnpike.

Zillow is predicting a more delayed comeback, with prices, at least nationally, not stabilizing until 2012.

Still, the idea that Boston is completely different and that we aren't feeling a fair amount of real estate pain here is also wrong.

One caller on yesterday's show noted he had just sold his house, taking a $60,000 hit in the process. Another caller couldn't unload her condo in Maynard, so she's decided to rent it out while looking for a house to buy.

Predicting the bottom of the real estate market is a fool's game - it's like trying to predict stock prices.

I have set up a big fat target here to shoot at, so fire away.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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