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Time to buy a house? Experts who sold at the peak now wonder

August 17, 2009 |  7:59 am

A few years ago, some economists and others arguing that there was a housing bubble -- often against strong opposition -- acted on their instincts and sold their houses. I caught up with a few of them in The Times today. Dean Baker, a Washington, D.C., economist and one of the prominent early predictors of the bubble, bought a house recently.

Others, such as PIMCO investment fund managing director Mark Kiesel and UCLA professor Mark Kleiman, say prices are still too high for them. But even Kiesel and Kleiman, along with Rich Toscano, producer of the popular Piggington's Econo-Almanac bubble blog, say homes at the low end of the market are now priced reasonably by historical standards, whether or not they've hit bottom. They've only recently begun to say so, as low-end prices have fallen in line with incomes and are favorable compared to rents. (An earlier version of this post inadvertently referred to Piggington's Eco-Almanac instead of Econo-Almanac.)

Princeton University economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, another who warned of overheated house prices, also bought a house this summer. He told the New York Observer, however, that he expects prices to keep falling; he just got a surprise windfall in Nobel Prize money that enabled him to make his purchase.

-- Peter Y. Hong