NAR economist speaks at Crye-Leike conference, gives mixed outlook – Memphis Business Journal

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Memphis Business Journal


The National Association of Realtors’ chief economist gave Thursday a mixed outlook on home prices and sales as potential homebuyers in the southern U.S. remain on the sidelines.


Lawrence Yun spoke Thursday at Crye-Leike Inc.’s national conference in Sandestin, Fla., according to a company release. He said the tightening credit market and pessimistic buyer psychology are the two key factors in the nation’s current housing slowdown.


“I see tighter credit availability and buyer psychology as the two key ingredients holding people back from buying homes today,” he said, according to a transcript. “I believe the confidence of buyers has been shaken by the current crisis on Wall Street and the ongoing housing slowdown. It has resulted in many buyers remaining on the sidelines in Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and across the southern U.S. region served by Crye-Leike, Realtors.”


Speaking to 400 Crye-Leike agents, Yun said the nation will be in an economic recession for the next three quarters; however, the current climate will not translate into a further downturn in home sales and values.


“While the economy will be sluggish for the next three quarters, we can already see recovery out west in California, Nevada and Arizona and we’re also starting to see an increase in home buying in South Florida,” he said. “At the present time I do not see prices leveling off or sales increasing in Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas and other markets in the South served by Crye-Leike, Realtors.”


Yun presented indicators that suggest the country is on the verge of a housing recovery, Crye-Leike said in a statement. The southern U.S. will eventually see a leveling off of prices and an increase in home sales as buyer confidence is restored by further government action, he said. However, he said the $7,500 first-time homebuyer tax credit doesn’t go far enough to spur more buying.


“Myself and the NAR leadership are strongly encouraging the U.S. Congress and the President to support the homebuyer tax credit with no repayment,” he said, according to the statement. “In its present form, a first-time buyer must repay the tax credit over a 15-year period. While in its current form it is a tremendous benefit, I believe if the repayment feature was removed many more first-time buyers would jump into the market. Our hope is that the next President and new Congress will address this.”


Based in Memphis, Crye-Leike is the nation’s fourth-largest real estate company with a network of 4,100 sales associates and 132 corporate and franchise offices located in eight states.