Housing Slump Makes For Buyer's Market

One of the housing industry's benchmark indexes shows home prices dropped by 18 percent in October, the sharpest annual rate drop on record, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace.

Even more alarmingly, it shows the housing crisis is spreading to cities that until now were believed to be immune to double-digit declines.

The news is a sign that the housing market, even in places like Atlanta, is sinking deeper into a hole. Barry Wisebram has been trying to sell his house for more than a year. Now desperate, he's slashing his asking price next week by $175,000 to just under $575,000.

"It seemed like a good investment at the time but I didn't exactly time the market correctly," Wisebram says with a laugh.

His timing actually couldn't have been worse, Wallace reports.

Housing prices in Atlanta dropped more than 10 percent over last year - the city's first ever double-digit decline.

Home prices fell in all 20 cities of the housing index. Hardest hit were San Francisco, Phoenix and Las Vegas - where home prices are down more than 30 percent - driven by rising foreclosures.

"The big problem right now is that we've got this huge inventory of homes and that huge inventory is putting intense downward pressure on prices across the board," says Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for INS Global Insight.

On the other hand, declining prices combined with the lowest mortgage rates in 40 years make it a buyer's market, if you have the cash.

Realtor Jessica Cohen says the holidays are usually so quiet she takes a vacation. But not this year.

"It's amazing. It's the day before New Year's Eve and I have seven appointments tonight in this building right here," said Cohen.

There are more shoppers but not necessarily more sales. Some prospective buyers are reluctant because they're worried about their jobs and they believe home prices will keep coming down.

Behravesh agrees.

"They'd rather wait because maybe six months or a year from now the price of that dream home you're looking for will be even lower so that is actually keeping a lot of people from buying right now," he said.

And that is one of the reasons why experts say the housing market hasn't bottomed out yet, Wallace reports. And it probably won't - they predict - until next summer at the earliest.
  • Kelly Wallace

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