Chart of the Day: Home Prices Won't Recover Until 2020

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When average Americans say that they have bad expectations for the U.S. economy, it's easy to take that with a grain of salt. Anyone who sees the unemployment rate stuck above 9% and incomes stagnating has plenty of reason for pessimism. But when financial industry professionals exhibit even greater pessimism, it's harder to shrug off. A recent poll (.pdf) by credit scoring company FICO produced pretty grim results.

The company polls credit risk management professionals quarterly about the state of the economy and credit industry. The report for the third quarter was released today, and it isn't good. Here are some of the results:

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For starters, nearly half -- 49% see the U.S. headed for a double dip. And that might be one of the more pleasant results. Check out the second one: 59% say home prices won't get back to 2007 levels until at least 2020. That's about a decade. Underwater mortgage borrowers aren't going to get closer to the surface anytime soon, according to this poll.

Indeed, mortgage delinquencies aren't going to improve in the near-term either. According to the poll, 73% believe that mortgage defaults will remained elevated for at least five more years. In general these credit professionals don't see consumers turning back to credit cards over that period either. Americans will continue to deleverage.

As far as the home prices prediction, in a sense, this is almost obvious. Home prices have declined 31% since their 2007 peak nationally. They're still falling. Even if they begin to rise over the next year or two, home appreciation is likely to more closely follow inflation than the crazy jumps we saw during the housing bubble. So if you assume that prices rise a few percent per year, some elementary math quickly shows that by 2020, home prices might still be quite a ways from their 2007 levels.

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Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
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