The most popular question since the mortgage meltdown and subsequent dive in home prices has changed in the past 12 months. It has evolved from "Where's the bottom?" to "What's the new normal?" The reasons for the change vary, but they lie somewhere between a general public acceptance that double-digit appreciation is a thing of the past, and the inability of economists and analysts to accurately predict supply and demand. Stabilization should come on the heels of the true bottom. The unrivaled number of foreclosures and shadow inventory homes, however, has simply thrown even the most accurate prognosticators off their mark. For example, six months ago, Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac, said that he expected the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to trend up to 5.25 percent by the end of 2011 and for home sales to rise 5 percent. "National home price indices are close to a bottom and prices are likely to bottom sometime this year," Nothaft...
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