The Prediction Game

By: Robert Evans
While discussion on the state of the current US housing market is pretty much finished, experts have turned their attention from Is the housing market falling to Where is it going to fall first? And hardest?

There are many methods to predicting, and while none of them can even be qualified as scientific, there are trusted voices in the din that people look to to see a glimpse of what might happen with real estate markets around the country.

Mark Zandi is one of those voices. He works for Moody'seconomy.com, and he has taken it upon himself to attempt to formulate a prediction as to which housing markets are doomed and which may get off easy.

The results? Zandi predicts dire results in Cape Coral, Florida, where he sees a decline in home values of almost 19 percent. Reno, Nevada will be hard hit as well, with a predicted 17% drop in housing prices. Stockton, California will also be creamed, suffering from a 15% drop. How did Zandi come up with these numbers? His recipe consisted of a few heaping helpings of supply and demand, a generous serving of changes in local mortgage rates, a smidge of demographic trends, a teaspoon of job market analysis and a pinch of new housing numbers.

A second, and far less analytical prediction method is floating around, too. Traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange can actually trade real estate futures in ten different housing markets. Their findings? San Diego will be the hardest hit, with declines around 8 percent. Los Angeles won't be much better off, with an expected decline in value of just under 7 percent. Las Vegas, which many people see as being over valued because of the endless influx of new residents in the last 20 years, is predicted to see a drop of almost 8 percent.

There were several areas where the two predictions matched. Both predicted almost the exact same decline in San Diego and in Washington D.C.

But there were also major differences. Boston, which has already been taking the brunt of the current housing market is predicted by Zandi to only see an increase of just over 2 percent in value lost. The CME traders, however, see a continued decline of 7 percent.

While no one knows for sure what's going to happen, the one thing pretty much everyone agrees on now is that the market is headed south. The best choice might be to just hang onto that property until things start going your way again, but it's anyone's prediction as to how long that is going to be.

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