June 15, 2012
BOSTON — A new report from Harvard University concludes that the long-struggling U.S. housing market has finally hit bottom. But it's still a long way back to the surface, even in Massachusetts, which has fared better than much of the country.
Chris Herbert of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies said the report indicates the housing crisis may be at an end.
He acknowledged that experts have predicted recovery before — only to see the market fall back down.
"But this time is different," he said. "It's different because we’re seeing fundamentals improve in both demand, in terms of steady but moderate upticks in terms of sales, and in supply side, in that we’re seeing home inventories down to levels that are more normal in a market."
Nevertheless, Northeastern economist Barry Bluestone, who prepares annual housing report cards for the Greater Boston area, said it could still take many years for Massachusetts prices to return to their peak 6 years ago:
"A few years ago we did an analysis and we thought we would be back around 2014, 2015. But indeed the depressed prices have continued much longer than the last cycle. And now I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see those prices regaining their past levels until the end of this decade," he said.
So is now a good time to buy a house in Boston?
"This is a terrific time for people in the home buying market to buy," Bluestone said. "Housing prices are near the bottom and interest rates are lower than they’ll ever be in our lifetime."
Bluestone said homeowners who want to sell still should wait a little longer, if they can, for prices to rise a bit.