I refer, instead, to what our upcoming real estate bottom might look like.
I was reading this:
which talk about a shadow inventory of houses that the owners want to sell, but they can't get the price they want so they are waiting and renting instead. Which is pretty much what R. and I anticipate having to do with our current home, should we successfully relocate to Acton or Concord. I think we can expect to see a continuing, precipitous decline in price along with an increase in inventory of short-sale/foreclosed/bank-owned properties. This will clear out the I-bought-too-high group from the last couple years, particularly everyone who financed too large a percentage with an ARM that is (going to) reset(ting) and/or those people who lose their jobs or get too squeezed by fuel (transport and heating/cooling) and food costs to afford what they might have otherwise squeaked by on.
Once that group is cleared out, I expect we'll see a long, drawn out bumping along the bottom. Every step up in price will drag out more of the shadow inventory that is currently rented.
The whole thing will be further complicated by the commute-shuffle, assuming commute costs remain high/go higher. We'll see people who are able to switching to smaller residences closer in (especially multi-family near public transportation hubs) to reduce their commute cost, which may further muddy the valuation waters. The AOL Real Estate/Zogby poll suggests more than a third of people would highly value a shorter commute. The effect should be that real estate near hubs recovers faster/doesn't go as low as real estate with longer commutes.
There you go. Recorded for the future reader to cackle at hysterically if I call it completely wrong. I still don't have either a time frame or a percentage drop in value. Both of which would be extremely useful.
Edited to add: A chunk of the boom included people buying properties to flip and/or vacation properties, which if it happened with enough properties, would imply that that also created shadow inventory, which is to say, people were not living in them because they were planning on selling them or only living in them part of the time. It seems to me that as these become available to rent/buy but definitely to live in, this also would tend to keep prices low.