When is the High, What is the low?

Toddi Gutner

I’ve just spent several hours reading housing bubble blog entries and comments. It seems there is some general consensus from the American public (if there can actually be one on the world wide web) that the U.S. real estate boom peaked in the last 12-18 months-depending on the market--and the bubble is slowly leaking.
Of course, real estate is local, so it’s not every market in every state, but many of the cities people blog about (read: either live in or want to live in) wrote about some indication of a slide.

With that in mind, I’m brought to a comment on one my Hot Property colleague’s entries, Washington, D.C. Bubble? where Wes (posted November 30, 2005 at 2:51pm) asked, "What is the low and when is the high?"

Of course, we all know we can’t time the market. But, if we were to try, what does a typical housing cycle look like? Chris, who recently posted the following comment on my entry entitled “Deflating Bubbles, Tanking Markets," wrote:

"The way previous housing booms go, they hit a peak, sit close to that for 1-2 years as sales numbers plunge, then drop by some percentage for the next 1-2 years to get to a low in actual $$. Prices then languish for about 8 years, eventually getting to the low in real terms, before picking up again. That's 10-12 years, and has been repeated in US busts ('70s and early '90s), Hong Kong, Japan, UK...do your research if you don't believe me. The durations, and the amount prices drop, vary and could be larger if the boom itself was larger. The real driver for this response is probably more a confidence thing based on greed/fear in the population than any demographic effect. During the boom everyone sees 'value' everywhere, after the boom no one sees 'value' anywhere. Just look at the stock market now, compared with how you looked at it in 2000."

Do you agree with Chris that housing cycles are 10-12 years? If so, should buyers (read: investors) hold off until 2010 so they can buy at the bottom?

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