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Friday, March 21, 2008

Sam Zell's Interview on housing market-CNBC 2008

This is one of the most encouraging articles I've seen for a recovery this year. This also follows my personal opinion as a Real Estate Agent in Tampa, Fl. The trends we are seeing are a huge increase in buyer activity here in Tampa because the word is out "Now is the time to Buy" We are also noticing an increase of overseas investors interested in our Tampa Bay Real Estate Market, which tells me that the word is getting out on a global level.

Faces In The NewsGrave Dancer Augurs Housing Recovery

Andrew Farrell, 02.26.08, 4:30 PM ET

With the housing market moribund, it's fitting that the man dubbed the Grave Dancer sees the long-awaited end to the slump. "I think (new home) starts have already pretty much bottomed out," said billionaire Sam Zell. "I think the housing market this spring will begin its recovery phase." Zell made the comments on Tuesday morning on CNBC.

Zell is calling the bottom of one of the worst housing slumps in decades. Standard & Poor's said Tuesday that home prices plummeted 8.9% during the fourth quarter from a year ago, the largest decline in the 20-year history of S&P's home price index.

When Zell speaks about real estate, it's worth listening. The 52nd richest American earned his moniker by buying run-down properties nobody wanted and then flipping them for a handsome profit. Last year, Zell sold his Equity Office Products, which owns 540 office buildings, to The Blackstone Group for $39 billion.

Office and retail property have faced headwinds over the past year, but the housing market is struggling against gale-force gusts. Supply is abundant after years of heavy building. Mortgage companies are restricting lending to potential buyers following the subprime meltdown. Toss in the daily parade of negative headlines and its no surprise many buyers are sticking to the sidelines.

Zell sees the market righting itself because slipping home prices throttled new construction. The U.S Department of Housing estimates that new home construction was down 33% this January from a year ago.

Many investors are agreeing with Zell's assessment that the bottom is near. They are rushing into homebuilders, which were battered throughout 2007, in anticipation of better times ahead. In the past three months, shares of D.R. Horton, Pulte Homes, and Lennar have each rallied at least 40%.
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