Lereah Sees Far-Off Recovery
Housing sales may hover near the bottom, but market recovery remains a long way off, says economist and author David Lereah in a media statement today that illustrates a surprisingly more conservative market view than he is known for. "The three major housing measures -- existing home sales, new home sales and housing starts -- are hovering above their cyclical lows posted in January of this year," he says. "And home values are currently falling at a slower pace than the pace registered in January." "It is possible that the worst may be behind us; but it is another thing to say that the housing markets are on the road to recovery," he adds. With nearly 22% of all US homeowners underwater in Q109, owing more on their homes than the current market value, Lereah says the housing market has a long way to go as prices continue to adjust. The housing market is saturated with surplus housing inventory -- and with a shadow inventory of homeowners who decided to wait to put their homes on the market until some recovery appears -- that continues to place downward pressure on sales. Foreclosure sales also pressure home prices, as so-called "distressed" sales typically bring around 20% less than non-foreclosures. "Only when home values stabilize, will we have a true recovery in the housing markets," Lereah says. His comments today suggest a cautious approach to the market's recovery -- a reversal from his history of supporting investment bubbles at their peaks. A former chief economist with the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Lereah currently serves as president of Washington, DC-based real estate advisory firm Reecon Advisors. He joined the firm in 2008, bringing a bibliography of real estate and investment titles. In 2000 just as the dot-com bubble prepared to collapse, Lereah penned The Rules for Growing Rich: Making Money in the New Information Economy. Lereah went on to publish multiple titles on profiting from the real estate boom. In 2005 he wrote Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?: Why Home Values and other Real Estate Investments Will Climb Through the End of the Decade--And How to Profit From Them. The book faced a bit of a rework before reappearing in 2006 as Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust--And How You Can Profit From It. Before leaving his post at NAR, Lereah penned All Real Estate is Local: What You Need to Know to Profit in Real Estate. Write to Diana Golobay.