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‘Catfish’ Recovery Out-Swims Case-Shiller

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By Steve Cook

RISMedia, June 8, 2011—New listing prices, which lead transactions by three to six months, are already up 8.7 percentage points over the March trough, an indication that sellers are pricing more confidently, says Scott Sambucci, vice president of market analytics for Altos Research in a Webcast for customers.

But he warned that we’ve entered a new market environment that won’t be easy to forecast.

“We’re entering the catfish recovery. What is the catfish recovery? Housing prices will find their way back to a fairly stable and sustainable place near the bottom and they’ll stay there for a while. Catfish live on the bottom of lakes and streams, bobbing up and down, moving around without any clear direction. The housing price trend will look like the path of a swimming catfish, and that’s why it’s the catfish recovery,” says Sambucci.

Sambucci says Altos’ Mid-Cities Composite, which consists of 20 mid-sized markets, is less volatile that Case-Shiller’s 20 major markers. During the housing crash it exhibited less downside and more seasonable stability but the same market trends. The composite’s markets had less subprime financing and were a mix of bubble and non-bubble markets.

“The double dip is simply the beginning of the next market cycle,” Sambucci says. “We’re heading into the single best time to make money in real estate, but only for smart people.”

Smart people recognize that the market is volatile, he says. Alto has measured 12 percent annual volatility in its own composite. They also know their local markets, where timing is everything. Even within a zip code prices vary greatly and investors must understand what local factors affect the market.

“Volatility means profit with the right information,” Sambucci says.

For more information, visit www.realestateeconomywatch.com.

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