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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Frugal housing. . . .

Last week, I was dithering about whether to pay down my second mortgage early, or start working on my student loan. I was questioning whether, with the sad state of the real estate market, throwing money at my second mortgage was really the intelligent thing to do, since I don't know whether I'll ever get that money back (I'm thinking not).

I got some really good (and thought provoking) comments on that blog post. One of my commenters mentioned that she thinks that the market in her area (another part of Oregon, I believe) has finally hit bottom. I'm hoping that's the case for Portland, though I'm still not convinced.

That comment made me think about all of the news articles written by supposed 'experts' who predicted that we had (or would) hit bottom in 2008, or 2009, or 2010, or even 2011! It seems that those of us in the trenches (like my commenter) may have more insight than the experts! Here's a sampling of the articles I've read over the years about this very subject (I'm a little obsessed with home values these days, as are many of us):

2008: The well-known Kiplinger's predicted that the housing market would bottom out in 2008, as did the equally well-regarded Bloomberg (though, in its defense, Bloomberg was really just parroting the predictions of a bunch of bankers).

2009: My very own Oregonian forecasted that in fact 2009 would be the magic number for a bottoming-out of Portland housing prices, while Moody's (via the Wall Street Journal) predicted that 'some' markets would bottom out in 2009.

2010: Reuters reported that 'Home Prices May Bottom Out in 2010' (I love how they start to qualify their predictions with the words 'may', 'could', 'some', 'possibly', etc, meaning that they don't want to commit to anything but they know we're going to read their article anyway because we're all desperate for good news. Way to protect your backside, economic experts!) Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's indicated that 2010 would be the year housing values stopped their downward slide, though they were nice enough to tell us that we might not see values at 2006 levels until 2020! Also, there is this rather interesting graphic that shows various predictions by the 'big players' in the world of real estate values (click on it for a larger version):

And now, we come to 2011: It's early yet, so there aren't many economists making predictions in writing, but I did find this one from Interest.com indicating that 'most' experts expect home prices to bottom out this year.

What does this all mean? Well, call me crazy but it seems as if all of those 'experts' have no freaking idea when the housing market will bottom out, and never did. They're guesstimating an end to the housing crisis based on, I'm sure, years of expensive education at Ivy League schools and various economic indicators. None of which has amounted to a hill of beans, apparently.

Meanwhile, I just tortured myself by checking zillow.com and learned that my home has dropped an additional $4,000 in value in the past few weeks.


Anonymous said...

It was the same in Canada. "The American market has nothing to do with us. We'll just carry on and ignore them." CRASH. We bought this condo July 2008 absolutely at the peak falling into the well, not abyss, but the drop and it has not come back yetttt. If the experts were so smart why weren't they yelling the crash was coming? And why aren't the experts so rich following their own knowledge they have no time to tell us anything? Perchance they have conflict of interest? Or are just dumb nothings shouting to be heard? I think the homeowner who has it all to gain or lose "knows" more whether it's just based on intuition. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Don't check zillow... needless grief. You still have a roof over your head and would have to pay something for rent - so just hang on :)

Here on the coast, I see action in the lower cost homes - the foreclosures. Investors are buying them for rentals, and I just bought one for ME, and will rent out my current home.

Until the slug of foreclosures gets bought up, the market for homeowner sales will not move upwards, imo. But...I think the sign that the foreclosures are moving means here on the OR coast, we have hit the bottom, or at least buyers like me think we have hit bottom, and are buying :)

I just upgraded - from a .12 city lot to a .64 acre country lot with gorgeous views and no close neighbors! Houses are about the same size - both under 1000 sq ft. This new one is actually 864 sq ft.


Anonymous said...

Have you thought of renting out your house till the market recovers -- would you make enough to pay the mortgage(s)? Even if you go to France, could you have a company look after the rental for a reasonable price?

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