Over the past year, I've heard two questions asked on a near-constant basis: How long will this housing downturn last and how low will my market go? The simple answer is: when the inventory stops piling up. To figure out when that will happen, housing economists study reams of data on building permits, housing starts, mortgage rates, loan resets, affordability indexes, job growth and a host of other factors including consumer psychology. Before you hear the answer from someone's crystal ball, it's worth establishing some historical context for your local market. The most obvious questions are: How long ago did the market hit its peak? Markets like Seattle, Charlotte and Atlanta are still rising. On the other hand, Boston peaked in September 2005, San Diego in November 2005 and Detroit in ...
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