Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate at the University of Pennsylvania, is watching the backlog of unsold homes. At January's sales pace, it would take about 9 1/2 months to rid the market of all those properties. A more normal pace would be six months.
Once foreclosures level off and the backlog is cleared, Wachter says, the housing market can begin to recover. But even with the Obama administration directing $75 billion in bailout money to stave off foreclosures, most economists don't expect home prices to bottom out before the first quarter of 2010. And don't expect an explosive rebound: Price increases will probably be modest when they come.
By ALAN ZIBEL, CHRISTOPHER LEONARD and TIM PARADIS