Survey says? Homeowners think real estate collapse is over

real estateA Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey published last week suggests that most homeowners think the worst is over, and don't anticipate further declines in the value of their properties in 2010.

Just 15% of homeowners surveyed in January expected their homes to decline in value over the next year, the lowest level since early 2007. It should be noted that the last time a lower percentage of homeowners expected their homes to fall in value, home prices promptly tanked.

A couple things to note here:

  • With so few sellers expecting further price declines, non-distressed sellers may feel less temptation to sell quickly to low-ball bidders before values fall further. That could help stabilize prices, even if hurts sales volume.
  • Now that the worst appears to be over, buyers may move off the sidelines and into the market, hoping to "get in at the bottom".
Survey data like this is useful to the extent that emotions do impact the decisions that prospective buyers and sellers make. Cautious optimism should bode well for a housing recovery, although there are still numerous obstacles. But in the long run, jobs and interest rates are what will really determine the future of the housing market.
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