Home prices could fall another 0.7% by the end of 2012, according to a Zillow (Z) survey of more than 100 economists and real estate experts.
"Looking at the longer history of these forecasts by top economists, the bottom in home prices always seems just around the corner but never quite here," said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.
A sharper drop than expected in the fourth quarter Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index forced many in the survey to reconsider rosier forecasts. Home prices ended 2011 down 4%. In an earlier survey, prices were expected to remain flat or drop 0.2% at most by the end of 2012.
The most optimistic respondents expected prices to rise 1%.
It was believed by some banking analysts and other economists that housing would bottom either this spring or at some point in 2012 before turning back up. But as the year began, some began to push back.
Lance Roberts, CEO of StreetTalk Advisors, told HousingWire in January that it may be until 2013, even 2014, until home prices stabilize.
Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, told a Senate subcommittee recently that he expects prices to bottom out in 2012 but not before another 3% reduction.
"We continue to expect home prices to stabilize in the spring/summer with improving housing and economic data," said JPMorgan Chase (JPM) analysts in a research note this month. "Demand rose while inventory fell. Builder confidence jumped, and job growth over the last six months was strongest since 2006."
Humphries stressed conditions around the country are varying considerably.
"Some markets have already hit bottom and are experiencing tight inventory and multiple offers, while foreclosures and negative equity continue to pull down the housing market in many other parts of the country," he said.