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房地产的焦虑:08年怎么走?

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房地产的焦虑:08年怎么走?

三年前,伏尔甘房地产公司在西雅图的长期不用的南湖联邦附近建造了一个帐篷,并邀请公众来看2200计划,一个奢华的有着独立产权的公寓项目将在这里建成。没几天工夫,2200几乎全部售完。

今天,这附近有了新的住宅宜人的环境支持着它。所以保罗.凯利,这位在2200公寓里17楼单元的主人,理应高高在上。但是事情并象想象的那样进行。

在西雅图有自有房产看上去就是个赢家,已经带有几分不确定性。凯利从九月份起试图卖出他视野很好的一室的房屋,但直到现在也没有卖出。他说几乎没有人来看它。

就象成千上万的其他售楼者发现的那样,西雅图区域的以前蓬勃的房地产市场最终慢慢地加入到国家低迷时期。由此引起了焦虑时刻,不仅仅对象凯利这样的售楼者,对那些想知道是否快速买就是买得太快的买楼者也是如此。价格会降吗?

然后有了得到抵押的争论。自从广泛宣传在该行业八月份过热以来,买方(那些希望重新申请贷款的人)已经有很少机会了。

“你是否正在买抵押贷款或者买一个家,可能已经不是象数年内买一个那样一年内做出选择。”HSH的副总裁、抵押信息供应者凯斯.古姆彬格说,“今年,家是焦虑的地方。”

现在的问题是:这种焦虑会进入到下一年吗,或者明年情形更坏?

       经济学家警告说预言房地产市场行为一直不确定。但是他们在这种情况中普遍认为普格特第二区域房屋销售将继续下跌,评论将停止。然而,房价不期望能大幅下降。

直到最近,西雅图区域房主可能沉浸在他们的房屋将增值很好的认知中。一位西雅图时报分析家发现2005年中间房价上涨16%,2006年上涨21%。

西雅图房地产经济学家马肖.盖德纳说,当今年的最终数值计算出时,中间价年增长可能是更象2%或者3%。这个数值使西雅图位列于许多城市之前;它仍然是大约十年里最低增值率的城市。

长远来看,现在关注经济学家的思想是经济不景气。由华尔街日报调查的52位经济学家预测美国进入不景气的机会是38%——在三年多的时间里回应最高。

住宅在经济不景气中起了重要做用。根据联邦住宅企业监管办公室预测,就是没有先前低迷的新闻,全国性房价明年期望下跌3.5%,

地方经济学家迪克.康威认为:“对于明年经济将发生什么有许多不确定性。我们可能进入不景气期,尽管没有人预知。”

不景气太难预言了,康威说,康威是普格特第二经济预测时事分析合著者。如此困难,事实上上一次全国性低迷,发生在近十年的前期,在大家还没有意识到它的存在之前就结束了。

如果出现了经济不景气,康威预言西雅图区域会比国家好。主要原因,他说:本地工作和人口增长是国家平均的两位,加上高工资。本地人均收入,今年预期是46356美元,高于全国平均的19.7%.

所有都是相关的因为住宅市场的健康直接关系到本地经济的健康。

就是说,房地产是循环的,康威预期明年平均普特格第二地区房价将下跌小于1%,在2008年反弹前销售量将下降约5%。

“有了那些我们在价格上有了很好的上扬,稍微向下的调整不应该感到奇怪,”他说。

对买房者来说可能也是条好消息。最近两位数房价增值超过了工资增长,而且严重破坏了支付能力。轻微地价格增加,不是坏消息,而允许工资增长跟得上才真得叫好。

然而,那些可能不是房主想听到的。但是山姆.贝斯,Bellevue的执行房地放公司的经济人,说这是现实。

“数年来我们已经连续获得了两位数的增值,如果你想你不能处理一丁点的萧条,你有一个非常美好的你应该得到的回报的前景,”贝斯说。

相反的,买房者有他们自己的难处:是否买房或者等到价格降了再买。许多人“或者极力想下一步将怎样或者试图计时市场的最低点。”

贝斯认为企图控制时间是无效的。“如果有人试图捡市场的最低点,他们不知道他们是否已经到了那个价位直到价格开始重新上升,到那个时候他们就失去了机会了。”

他的建议:关注本地而不是全国房地产信息因为“重要的房地产趋势是本地。如果他们读到一些全国数字,而不看看华盛顿的房地产市场发生了什么,他们不会知道‘本地房地产市场怎么样?’的确切答案‘位列全国前五位’。”

所以下一年的词是耐心。那是保罗.凯利,有独立产权公寓的拥有者采取的方法.#p#分页标题#e#

尽管他喜欢现在卖出(对于直接问他的买方,他已经把价格从624000美元降到了599000美元),他说现实地讲在他重新列出之前房价可能会弹起。

“我想到那时候事情应该有信心得到解决;不管怎么说那是我的计划,”凯利说,“我知道我的买家在那里等我。他们只是来看看它。”

译文:Real-estate anxiety: What's next in '08?


Despite the stunning views of downtown and the coveted Pan Pacificaddress, Paul Kelly has so far been unable to find a buyer for his17th-floor condominium atop the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Three Decembers ago, Vulcan Real Estate erected a tent in Seattle'slong-unfashionable South Lake Union neighborhood and invited the publicto see plans for 2200, a luxury condominium project to be built there.Within days, 2200 was nearly sold out.

Today the neighborhood is awash in new housing and the amenities tosupport it. So Paul Kelly, the owner of a 17th-floor unit in 2200,should be sitting on top of the world. But it didn't quite work outthat way.

What looked like a surefire winner — homeownership in Seattle — hastaken on a tinge of uncertainty. Trying since September, Kelly has beenunable to sell his one-bedroom unit with its unobstructed view. Hardlyanyone has come to see it, he says.

As thousands of other sellers have also found out, the Seattlearea's formerly stellar real-estate market has finally, slowly joinedin the national downturn. That makes for anxious times, not just forsellers like Kelly, but also for buyers who wonder whether buying soonis buying too soon. Will prices drop?

And then there's the issue of getting a mortgage. Since the widelypublicized August meltdown in that industry, buyers (and those hopingto refinance) have had fewer choices.

"Whether you're shopping for a mortgage or for a home, thereprobably has not been as challenged a year as this one in years," saysKeith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH, a mortgage-informationprovider. "This year, home is where the anxiety is."

Now the question is: Will that spill into next year, or is the worst over?

Economists caution that predicting housing-market activity is alwaysuncertain. But their general take on the situation is that PugetSound-area home sales will continue their decline and appreciation willstall. However, home prices are not expected to drop significantly.

Until recently, Seattle-area homeowners could bask in the knowledgethat their houses would appreciate handsomely. Median home prices rose16 percent in 2005 and 21 percent in 2006, a Seattle Times analysisfound.

When this year's final numbers are tallied, the median annualincrease will probably be more like 2 or 3 percent, Seattle real-estateeconomist Matthew Gardner says. That puts Seattle ahead of many cities;still, it's the lowest appreciation rate in roughly a decade.

Looking ahead, the concern on economists' minds now is recession.Fifty-two economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal gauged thechances of the U.S. entering a recession at 38 percent — the highestresponse in more than three years.

Housing takes a hit in recessions. But even without formal news of adownturn, home prices nationally are expected to decline 3.5 percentnext year, according to the Office of Federal Housing EnterpriseOversight.


Locally, economist Dick Conway acknowledges, "There's a lot moreuncertainty for next year in what's going to happen to the economy. Wecould go into a recession, although no one is predicting it."

And recessions are hard to predict, says Conway, co-author of ThePuget Sound Economic Forecaster newsletter. So hard, in fact, that thelast national downturn, in the early part of this decade, was overbefore anyone realized it existed.

Further turmoil in the financial markets could cause one now, Conwaysays. "There's so much uncertainty among lenders that it's hard to tellwhere it will all end up."

If there is a recession, Conway predicts the Seattle area willweather it better than the nation. The main reasons, he says: local joband population growth, which are running twice the national average,plus high wages. Local per-capita income, expected to be $46,356 thisyear, is 19.7 percent above the national average.

All that's relevant because the health of the housing market is directly related to the health of the local economy.

That said, real estate is cyclical, and Conway anticipates averagePuget Sound-region home prices will decline less than 1 percent nextyear, and sales will be down about 5 percent, before rebounding in 2008.

"Given that we had a pretty good run-up in prices, some downward adjustment shouldn't be surprising," he says.

It could also be good news for buyers. Recent double-digit homeappreciation has outpaced wage growth and seriously underminedaffordability. Negligible price increases, rather than being bad news,could actually be good by allowing wages time to catch up.

That, however, is probably not what owners want to hear. But SamPace, an agent with Bellevue's Executive Real Estate, says it'srealistic.

"We've had double-digit appreciation for years in a row, and if youthink you can't handle a little bit of a dip, you have a pretty specialview of what your return should be," Pace says.

Conversely, buyers have their own quandary: whether to buy or waitfor prices to fall. Many are "either trying to figure out what's goingon or trying to time the very bottom of the market."

Pace considers attempts at timing futile. "If somebody tries to pickthe very bottom of the market, they won't know if they got there untilprices start climbing again, by which time they've missed theopportunity."

His advice: Pay attention to local rather than national real-estatenews because "the important real-estate trends are local. If they readsome national number, and don't look at what's happening withWashington's real-estate market, they wouldn't know that the accurateanswer to 'How's the local real-estate market?' is 'Top 5 in thenation.' "

So the word for next year is patience. That's the approach Paul Kelly, the condominium owner, is taking.

Although he'd like to sell it now (and has reduced his price from$624,000 to $599,000 for buyers who purchase directly from him), hesays that realistically it may be spring before he lists it again witha real-estate company.

"I think things should hopefully settle down by then; that's my plananyway," Kelly says. "I know my buyer is out there. They just have tocome see it."

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