What's it feel like to survive one hurricane only to be told that another is on the way? New York Cityarea homeowners are in just that spot. After the region suffered the brunt of financial-industry cutbacks, the next big wave of woe could be a nor'easter of collapsing home prices. That's the forecast of an extensive new report on residential real estate by Deutsche Bank, which calls for home prices in metropolitan New York City (which includes Westchester, northern New Jersey and other nearby areas) to fall 40.6% from the prices that prevailed in March.
Ironically, that dire forecast is wrapped in an improving forecast for nationwide home prices. Back in March, Deutsche Bank analysts had expected national home prices to decline 16.5%; now they foresee just a 14% decline. That mildly upbeat news does not hold true for the New York City area, however, which is expected to see a 40.6% drop. While that is also a slight improvement from the March forecast, it is dire nonetheless.
To arrive at their forecasts, the Deutsche Bank analysts, led by Karen Weaver, assessed several leading variables, with affordability being a key driver. The pronounced decline in home prices across the nation, coupled with a downward drift in interest rates, has greatly improved nationwide affordability, the report noted. Indeed, in some famously overpriced regions that have since corrected, such as Los Angeles and the RiversideSan Bernardino areas of California, affordability is as good now as it has been in decades. That's a big reason that many California areas may see prices fall only an additional 10% or so, despite the state's deepening financial crisis.
New York City's big problem is not so much the financial-industry meltdown as it is an intense lack of affordability. As the report notes, metropolitan-area New York home prices peaked in the second quarter of 2007 at $552,000. By the first quarter of 2009, the median price had dropped 19%, to $446,000, but the market swoon was less than half the drop recorded in many other areas of the country. Today among the 10 biggest metropolitan areas, New York ranks as the least affordable.