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Monday, August 22, 2011

Housing’s Drag on Economy May Worsen

More negative news on the housing industry.
As the U.S. economy shows signs of sputtering, instability on Wall Street is sapping the confidence of would-be property buyers, said Karl Case, co-founder of the S&P/Case-Shiller home- price index. That means housing, which aided every recovery except one before the most recent recession, may deepen its five-year drag on growth.
“There’s a dramatic effect on an economy when a major sector is flat out,” said Case, professor emeritus of economics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. “If housing takes another leg down, it’s an accelerator. It’s going to make a recession happen faster and deeper.”
Home sales in July fell to the lowest point this year, the National Association of Realtors said in a report last week. Applications for mortgages to buy homes dropped to a 13-month low in the week ended Aug. 12, even as borrowing costs tumbled, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index sank to the lowest since the recession
Look at the number of cancellations.
“Low mortgage rates are only helpful to homebuyers who aren’t paralyzed with fear after watching their 401(k) disappear,” said Mark Goldman, a lecturer at the Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate at San Diego State University. “For now, people see the stock market as a casino table.”
Homebuyer cancellations in the past two months rose about 10 percent from a year earlier, Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the Realtors group, said at a news conference on Aug. 18. He attributed the jump to trouble getting appraisals that match the loan amount and “overly stringent” lending standards. In addition, member agents mentioned a rise in “other problems,” which include waning buyer confidence, he said
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