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It also is important to keep in mind that even when the housing-market collapse ends, home prices in nearly all markets still will be greater than they were in early 2000.
When they reach their trough -- likely, later this year -- U.S. home prices still are projected to be 21 percent more than they were at the start of 2000.
This offers some reassurance, but it also means that housing during the first decade of this century was not a good investment. Annual inflation likely will end around 3 percent by the close of 2010.
Then again, compared to stocks, which have lost about 30 percent to 40 percent of their value since the beginning of 2000, housing doesn't look so bad.
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According to current forecasts, when the home-price adjustment is complete, only 26 metropolitan markets -- all of which are located in California, Nevada, Florida and Michigan -- will revert to home prices below those seen in 2000. That's less than 7 percent of a total of 381 metropolitan market areas nationwide.
Those data points are small consolation for families with negative equity in their homes. But they remind us that economic downturns, however painful, eventually end.
Ultimately, before and after the downturn, brokers should seek the best data available and use it to help themselves and their clients.
David Stiff is chief economist of Fiserv Inc., the leading global provider of information-management and electronic-commerce systems for the financial-services industry. Stiff is responsible for the Fiserv Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, which include home-price data owned and generated by Fiserv.
They cover more than 3,000 U.S. ZIP codes, 300 counties and 100 metropolitan areas along with state markets. Reach Stiff at email@example.com.
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