Saturday, April 18, 2009

When will the Housing Market Recover? Not This Year, Experts Say

One in every nine homes in the United States is sitting vacant, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Economists predict that getting rid of this glut nationwide will take at least three years.

Here’s the math: The number of housing units in the United States increased by 8.65 million from 2002 to 2007. During that period, the number of U.S. households rose by only 6.7 million. Subtract a half-million homes that will be torn down or lost to fire, and that leaves an excess of 1.3 million units, not including vacation homes.

The country adds about 1.5 million households every year, but the recession and a slowdown in immigration is reducing that number. Additionally, Gen Xers, most of who are within the age range when people tend to have the most children, are relatively small in number and won’t create an enormous need for larger living space.

Factor in the number of new homes being built—about 700,000 this year, according to Arthur C. Nelson, director of the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center— and the bottom line is a multi-year recovery.

As Robert Lang, head of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, puts it, "Population is still growing, and sooner or later, you'll want to move out of relatives' basements."

Utah’s Nelson analyzed government and private housing data and predicts that hard-hit housing markets in the West and South will start to bounce back later this year and during the first half of 2010. The Northeast and Midwest will have the slowest comeback, possibly extending beyond 2012, he says.

Source: USA Today, Hava El Nasser (09/10/2009)

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