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Danger on the Horizon for Housing Markets

Apr 24, 2008
Have you ever heard the saying; out like a lamb, in like a lion? The Springfield Illinois housing market, one of the most affordable and stable in the nation, reported to be the best in the Midwest in 2007, is rebounding following a dismal first quarter. However there is trouble on the horizon, and not just for the Springfield housing market, all housing markets.

Following lamb like activity with home sales down 29% in March, and down 19.4% for the first quarter, April is coming on like a lion. The first three business weeks have posted the first back to back weeks of over one hundred home listings being reported sold pending by The Capital Area Association of Realtors MLS.

This historically resilient housing market which has bucked national trends, just may be on the road to recovery. However there are threats to the economy that may derail this market and others. Government actions.

A meeting of top executives representing the top 20% financial institutions, are reported by the AP to declare the most immediate threat to the economy is the credit crisis and the weak housing market. Fair enough. The executives then declared the next biggest threats to the economy are the possibility of tax increases, and legislation that would interfere with free trade.

Both Democrat presidential candidates have said they would allow the Bush tax cuts to expire which would raise taxes on all Americans by 1.2 trillion dollars. Included in the Bush tax cuts was the capital gains tax reduction to 15%. This tax cut is credited for the boom in commercial real estate development, and business investment. The raising of the capital gains tax would deal a devastating blow to the economy.

Both candidates pandering to the left wing base of the party to secure nomination are proposing 1 trillion dollars in new spending for expanded government programs such as universal health care, college for all, and other entitlement programs. Both say they will tax the rich to pay for the programs. Pure socialism through wealth redistribution, and punishment for hard work and success.

Both candidates now argue over who can renege on free trade agreements faster than they can retreat from Iraq. The truth is exports accounted for 40% of all economic activity in 2007. These top executives fear trade restrictions will destroy the markets for U.S. goods which will cause massive unemployment and industry failures.

The danger to all housing markets is weak demand, causing fewer sales, lower prices, and more foreclosures due to both the loss of jobs, and reduction of income through higher taxation.

Housing markets are already suffering from changes in lending standards which will cause short term pain by decreasing the number of qualified buyers, however will lead to long term stability.

Housing markets suffer from buyers that are losing disposable income to record high fuel prices, which in turn are driving up the price of food. The average family won't be shopping for a new home with their incomes under attack by these price increases. Add in loss of more revenue through tax increases, loss of jobs if markets for our goods are cut off, and the housing slump of today will seem like a walk in the park.

It also was reported this week that Americans have borrowed 1.2 trillion dollars against their home equity. Should the Democrats win the presidency and harm the economy with their proposed economic actions, millions of home owners will see the value of their homes fall well below the amount borrowed.

This too will negatively impact the housing market. Millions of families won't be able to sell because they will owe too much. No taking job transfers, or a move up or down. They'll be stuck. Unless they walk away, when they no longer desire to pay for something that's not worth it anymore, as we witnessed thousands doing in 2007.

In spite of the calamitous tax and trade policies being proposed, the greatest threat is barely being mentioned; inflation. The American people are only fooling themselves if they don't believe the energy crisis isn't fueling inflation. It's apparent every time you shop at the grocery store.

The Federal Reserve is playing a game of chicken with inflation by keeping interest rates low, hoping to stimulate the economy. This can not, and will not last.

The nail in the housing market coffin will be higher interest rates following the attack upon American families disposable income by gas/energy/food prices, tax increases, and job loss due to governmental interference in free trade.

The solutions are available to avoid this catastrophe. Don't elect anyone against free trade, or who says they will raise taxes. Get serious about the energy crisis. Start by opening government land (and sea) for drilling oil, relax regulations on refinery construction, nuclear power plant construction, and eliminate ethanol subsidies along with farm subsidies.

We have created a food crisis at home and abroad due to foolish governmental actions, we must undo those with responsible governmental actions.

The nation is at a crossroads with the upcoming election. The economy, your job, your standard of living, your liberty, your way of life will be determined by the outcome. Choose wisely.
About the Author
Fritz Pfister is a licensed Realtor with RE/MAX Professionals Springfield Illinois.
Fritz is the leader in the local real estate market with over 1050 home sales since 2000, and hosts a live one hour radio program, now in its' 13th year.
Fritz's website is
Fritz provides advice that helps consumers succeed in the sale or purchase of homes.
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