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September 6, 2006

The housing collapse heard round the world

-- by Dave Johnson

The housing collapse heard round the world,

...But the peak has passed, and the consequences of the deflating bubble are buffeting the housing market, in Washington and across the United States.

What sold in a weekend here last year is taking months to unload. And increasingly nervous home sellers are slashing prices to get rid of properties before their value sinks even further. One buyer recently threatened to walk away from a signed contract on a $1.6-million house unless the seller took $100,000 off the price to reflect the drop in value since the deal was struck. The seller quickly buckled, fearing the house might be worth even less if put back on the market today.

"Look how fast prices were going up. The same thing is happening on the way down," observed Ms. Gaus, who's been selling homes in Potomac for 16 years.

The U.S. housing crash may prove to be the economic equivalent of the canary in the coal mine -- a warning of impending danger in an economy that has surged too far, too fast. Many experts are now openly speculating about a possible U.S. recession next year, brought on by consumers reacting to the shrinking value of their nest egg. If they're right, the fallout could prove to be far nastier than the collapse of the technology bubble at the start of the decade.

"It could throw the economy into recession if consumers go into a shell," worried economist Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland. "I don't see anything out there to compensate."

There's more, go read. Then go read Home prices show huge slowdown and Home Prices Fall in Nearly One-Fourth of Metropolitan Regions,
Price declines are spreading to more parts of the country. The 89 areas affected in the second quarter compares to 66 metropolitan areas where prices fell in the first three months of the year. In the fourth quarter last year, only 29 areas reported such declines.
If you know anyone thinking of buying a house, suggest they offer 25% less than the asking price just to see what happens. They might find themselves owning a house -- that they still paid way too much for.

Posted by Dave Johnson at September 6, 2006 6:14 PM

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