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Market Watch: Predictions, Numbers, Charts, And Guesswork

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Considering that home prices are down 12 percent since last spring/summer, the LA Times poses the question of how much further prices could fall. (During the last downturn, between 1991-1997, median home values in Southern California fell 19 percent.) And the paper gets a hodge podge of answers: Prices could fall 15-25 percent! Market won't get better till 2010! No, 2009! Oh, and if there's a recession, "all bets are off" on those numbers. Basically, this story reveals nothing new, so let's head over the to NY Times, which recently noted that prices fell by 30 percent from 1925-1933. Also some urgent financial reforms are needed. Another Times piece cites third-quarter data from Zillow stating that of homes bought in the last year, nearly 16 percent are now worth less than the amount of the original mortgage. And which state is particularly troubled? "California is a kind of negative-equity vortex right now," notes the paper, but thankfully LA County isn't included. Sorry, Stockton. A bright spot and an overlooked one: While you're screwed if you're looking to sell your home in a hurry, according to Zillow’s data, "more than 98 percent of people who bought a house five years ago are in the black by now."
· Homeowners' big question: How low will prices go? [LA Times]
· A Time for Bold Thinking on Housing [NY Times]
· When Ownership of a Home Turns Negative [NY Times]