Clear Capital: Fiscal cliff could derail housing market

Clear Capital: Fiscal cliff could derail housing market
FILE photo -- Clear Capital reports that the impending fiscal cliff could undermine the real estate recovery. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The impending fiscal cliff in the U.S. threatens an improving housing market, both in the U.S. and in Portland.

Clear Capital, which analyzes the housing market, today released its Home Data Index Market Report saying the cliff could “throw a wrench” into the recovery.

The “fiscal cliff” refers to several U.S. tax policies slated to end this year. Yesterday, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center predicted taxes could rise by more than $500 billion next year unless Congress restores some tax breaks. Nearly 90 percent of Americans would pay higher taxes.

The Clear Capital housing analysis ranked Portland No. 16 in the country, based on a predicted 4.3 percent rise in housing prices in the next six months. According to the Regional Multiple Listing Service, the average price of a Portland home is $281,700 — the highest level in five years.

Portland housing prices increased 4.3 percent between the second and third quarters and 6.3 percent year-over-year.

Prices in the majority of the top 50 housing markets are improving, with average price gains of 2.4 percent. Housing prices in Phoenix are 27.7 percent higher than they were a year ago. At 9.4 percent, the western U.S. recorded the highest overall increase in yearly housing prices.

However, the report found that fear from the impending fiscal cliff threatens consumer confidence and will discourage potential home buyers.

“If the cliff is avoided, we still run the risk of damaging confidence with a resolution pushed against year-end deadlines,” said Dr. Alex Villacorta, Clear Capital’s director of research and analytics. “The sooner businesses and consumers are reassured, the more likely they are to build, purchase, or loan on a house.”

Clear Capital, based in Truckee, Calif., provides asset valuation and risk assessment for large financial services companies.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU News partner.