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Survey: Many Still Believe Housing Recovery Still Three to Five Years Away

Zillow housing recovery [1]In a quarterly survey [2] of more than 100 real estate experts and economists, real estate data firm Zillow [3] found 40 percent of respondents believe it will take another three to five years for the housing market to normalize, based on current home price trends and homebuyer activity.

Nearly a third of panelists took a more optimistic view, predicting the market will stabilize one to two years from now, while one in five responded that housing has either already returned to normal or will within the next 12 months.

When asked about headwinds facing the market right now, respondents pointed to low household formation rates, which have been stymied in part by a challenged economy. According to another recent study from Zillow [4], more than a third of adults living in the U.S. were living with at least one roommate as of 2012, up from a quarter in 2000.

While those renters represent millions of potential new formations in the years to come, they remain stuck where they are as jobs and wages slowly grow.

Demographic issues are also at play, Zillow reported. While more millennials seem to be holding off on major commitments—including homeownership, marriage, and parenthood—a growing number of Americans nearing retirement age are also opting to stay in their homes longer, keeping the nation's housing inventory from making any meaningful recovery.

"We've reached a point in the recovery where the only real cure-all is time," Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries said. "[T]he landscape is slowly changing, as incomes begin to grow, negative equity fades and new households start to form. These shifts won't occur overnight, but they are happening. Patience will be a virtue over the next few years as we wait for these traditional fundamentals to more fully take hold in the market."