Countrywide Financial Corp. is the nation’s largest mortgage lender, handling nearly one out of every six new mortgages in the country. So it’s worth taking note when the company’s in-house economist predicts a big change in home values. “The most likely secnario for housing prices over the next year or so is a significant slowdown in the overall rate of appreciation, down close to zero,” Jeffrey K. Speakes writes in his lastest Economic Outlook letter. http://about.countrywide.com/EconOutlook/Outlook.aspx?&ir=yes Speakes’ reasoning is simple. Home prices have risen too far, too fast, exceeding income gains for the past five years. Rates are heading up. He’s forecasting price declines in some local markets. No company has done more to keep home prices heading up than Countrywide. This forecast probably wasn’t easy for them.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.