Yale's Shiller to CNBC: Housing Recovery Could Take 50 Years

Friday, 02 Nov 2012 07:13 AM

By Dan Weil

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The housing market has begun to rebound, but it remains to be seen whether the recovery is sustainable, Yale University economist Robert Shiller said. He warned CNBC that it could take 50 years to return to its previous levels.

The Commerce Department reported last week that new-home sales jumped 5.7 percent in September from August to their highest level in more than two years. Meanwhile, housing starts ascended to their highest seasonally adjusted annual rate in the past four years.

Then came news this week that the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home values in 20 cities rose 2 percent in August from a year earlier, the biggest year-to-year gain since July 2010.

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

"This may well be the bottom for housing for some years," Shiller told Yahoo. But next week’s election, the Dec. 31 fiscal cliff and Europe’s debt crisis could throw housing for a loop.

In coming years, home prices will be depressed by sales from retiring baby boomers moving to urban areas from the suburbs, he says.

"It can get big as it was again maybe in 50 years. This housing bubble was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, I imagine," Shiller told CNBC. "Although, you know, the market might be more volatile, so the future is always unknown."

"My general idea is that we're not going into a nationwide boom and not many places will show booms in the next few years," he told CNBC.

Some analysts are more bullish than Shiller. “All the things that were really holding back housing are finally starting to lift,” Guy Berger, an economist at RBS Securities, told Bloomberg.

“It really is tough to find any bad signs here. Inventories are very, very lean. Assuming the economy remains on track, housing should continue to improve for the rest of the year and into 2013.”

Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial, told Reuters, "The improvements we've seen are very sustainable and very solid."

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

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