Home sales recovery: A state of mind?

Home sales recovering- maybe.A new online poll indicates that we have a ways to go before the residential real estate market in this country returns to anything resembling "normal" because the vast majority of those polled -- 69% -- don't even believe we have hit the bottom in home sales.

That means that if you are looking to buy, you may hold off, thinking you will get an even lower price soon, while if you are looking to sell, you may hold off, thinking you will get an even higher price soon. Not exactly a vibrant marketplace that we are talking about here.

The HousingPredictor.com poll asked the simple question : "Do you feel your housing market has hit bottom?" 31% answered yes, while 69% said no.

It's hard to judge how valid this poll might be because the website fails to disclose exactly how many people were polled and what its rate of accuracy (plus or minus whatever) might be. Still, it rings true simply because other reports from around the country would suggest that the real estate market is still very much in a state of flux.

The HousingPredictor.com poll reflects this, pointing out that residents of California, Michigan and Ohio are more likely to say they think the real estate market has reached rock bottom because they are seeing home values start to rise a little in their communities from the bottoms they already hit.

If online polls don't exactly win your trust, perhaps some wisdom courtesy of Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett will? At a news conference yesterday in Omaha, Buffet said he thinks there will be a "sustainable recovery" in the housing market within the next year. But he also offered a note of caution, warning that such a housing rebound could be stopped in its tracks if Washington policymakers create an oversupply of homes for sale through some sort of artificial stimulation of the market.

Such is the complexity of the housing market, that you have to take even Warren Buffet's insights with a large grain of salt. I looked back to his comments at last year's annual shareholders meeting when he said that he saw signs of stabilization in the housing markets. Oh well. Guess even business gurus can be off a bit.

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has written about real estate related issues for several years.
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