In my entry yesterday, I blogged about the NYT article talking about what's happening in the current market (very little) and what could or should be done about it. The first issue I discussed was the possibility of a double dip, and whether that would happen. Today I have a suggestion about the type of governmental intervention that might prevent further declines.
All of the efforts to date ($23 billion in tax credits) have been focused on homebuyers, particularly first-time homebuyers. As I have opined before, first-time buyers are the most likely to buy no matter what market conditions might exist at the time they are ready to purchase. Since interest rates are low, and prices have come down somewhat, and since they have nothing to compare those prices to, they should be motivated already. The problem is that there is little well-priced product out there for them to buy, low sales notwithstanding. The inventory lacks homes which are not even being marketed due to current conditions, and many that have been on the market too long and for too much.
Why shouldn't the Federal government consider a one-time tax credit for sellers, maybe as a percentage of the loss in value that they have incurred, or maybe as a credit when they both sell and then buy? Many people would not even qualify, just as many buyers made too much money or bought houses too expensive for the homebuyer credit. Some have lived in their homes for so long that they would never lose money when selling, and some will sell but not purchase again. However, it would be a strong signal from the government that sellers need to lower prices before the market can move again. If that could be accomplished for the same price tag as we incurred giving an incentive to buyers, it might free up the whole sales chain. Buyers who can't buy because they already own a home they can't sell would then trade up or move, and people who just can't stomach not getting what they would have gotten a few years ago might feel that the tax credit made up for that, at least in part. There are many details to be worked out, but something needs to happen, and I don't think that even job creation will change the perception about the current state of real estate without some sort of outside help. Waiting around is costing us all time, money, and sound sleep.