First came a historic national crash in home prices, then a surprisingly sharp jolt off the bottom. Investors, desperate for yield and fueled by Fed-induced cheap cash, swarmed the most distressed housing markets, buying bargain-basement properties and turning them into rentals. Some markets saw double-digit annual price appreciation. Some analysts started to float the word “bubble,” again.
Now, finally, reality is setting in yet again. Foreclosures have fallen to new lows since the crisis, and investors, while not selling their homes, are not buying nearly as many. That has taken much of the air out of home prices. In addition, the number of homes for sale is rising, pushing sellers from the driver’s seat to the way, way back.
“What a difference a year makes,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. “At this time last year, we were worrying about a number of frothy markets that looked like they could be on the edge of another housing bubble, places where homes were appreciating at more than 20 percent per year and where buyers’ heads were spinning just trying to keep up.”
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