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Real estate investors bailing out?
Report: Speculators could hasten the real estate cool-off by putting properties on the market.
December 7, 2005: 1:12 PM EST
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Recent economic data may point to a cooling housing market and some investors are already dashing for the exits, according to a news report published Wednesday.

Speaking with real estate brokers and analysts from such hot real estate markets as Las Vegas, Miami and Washington, D.C., The Wall Street Journal reported that fewer people are buying property as an investment vehicle.

A researcher at Arizona State University told the paper that in the hot market of Phoenix, as many as 30 percent of the properties for sale on the market right now are owned by investors, while Sandra Geary, a real estate broker in Sonoma County in California said that her sales to investors have dipped by over 75 percent.

"Now that the market is slowing down, it's scaring investors away," Geary told the Journal.

Citing data from the mortgage analysis firm LoanPerformance, the paper reported that in some regions such as Redding, Calif., investors made up 22.01 percent of the purchases made through September.

Recent industry reports have hinted at a slowdown in the real estate market. On Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors said that pending home sales in October dipped by 3.2 percent, while the Federal Reserve reported last week in its "beige book" summary of economic conditions that some housing markets have cooled.

"Generally, residential real estate market activity remained high, but many districts reported a slowing or cooling of activity," the Fed said in its report.

Even the latest data from the agency which oversees the mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported slower growth in home prices as the average price for a U.S. home rose 12.2 percent for the 12 months through Sept. 30 from a year earlier, compared to 14.2 percent in the period ending June 30.

Even interest in condos has waned in regions such as Washington D.C., as cancellation rates have been rising, the National Association of Home Builders told the paper.

"It's largely because of investors" pulling back, Gopal Ahluwalia, the organization's staff vice president for research told the Journal.

If demand by investors weakens, that could hasten any slowdown in the market, David Berson, chief economist at Fannie Mae told the Journal. According to his estimates, home sales will fall by 10.4 percent over the next two years due to a drop in the number of investors and the number of second home purchases.

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