Is it time to start house hunting? Cyril Moulle-Bertaux opined that April 2008 marked the bottom of the U.S. housing market.
And in his R.O.I. column WSJ’s Brett Arends makes a similar argument. He looks at the data on housing starts since 1972, which shows that new housing starts slumped below the one million mark in March. Every time that has happened in the last 50 years, Mr. Arends writes, it proved to be the bottom of a recession.
“It’s bottom-fishing time, I think,” says Wellesley College Prof. Karl E. Case in the column. Mr. Arends says that he is one of the leading experts on the housing market in the country. “There’s got to be bargains in Florida, Arizona and Nevada.”
Mr. Arends points out that Bill Wheaton, a legendary real-estate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has also suggested that fears about the real-estate crash were overdone. And he points to a private portfolio manager in London, who said the homebuilding stocks on Wall Street were at last a “buy.”
In the Journal editorial, Mr. Moulle-Bertaux suggests that the housing market will revive, as more first-time buyers are lured in by falling prices and lower mortgage rates. “Homes on average are back to being as affordable as during the best of times in the 1990s,” he writes. “Numerous households that had been priced out of the market can now afford to get in.”
To be sure, as Mr. Arends points out, there is no guarantee that this downturn will follow the patterns of the past. And he notes that prices in many areas are far from a historic bargain. And where there is a glut, prices — obviously — are likely to stay lower for longer. But in many areas, prices are low and buyers may be tempted.
Readers, are you tempted?