Mortgage-Bond Bigwig Lewis Ranieri Calls Housing Bottom

Mortgage-bond pioneer Lewis Ranieri joins growing chorus of experts saying housing has hit bottom.

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The housing market has reached bottom, according to mortgage bond pioneer Lewis Ranieri, joining a growing chorus of other expert voices who say the long slog downward might finally be coming to an end.

Though there's still concern that home values have more room to fall this year, "many, myself included, think we are at a bottom," Ranieri said according to Bloomberg.

Speaking at conference hosted by the Mortgage Bankers Association, Ranieri added that the low-point will likely show up in second or third quarter numbers.

Meanwhile, recent home value data from the widely-followed S&P/Case-Shiller Index reaffirmed fears that prices were still dropping in most metro areas across the country.

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While falling home values continue to spook would-be homebuyers and keep sales down, the larger concern is the future of the regulatory environment when it comes to the housing market, Ranieri said. Before they will start lending again, lenders need clear standards, he said.

One big question mark is the "qualified mortgage" regulation, intended to safeguard consumers from risky loans. Industry experts remain in the dark about the details of the much-debated regulation and how it will impact banks and other lending institutions.

"I truly believe the future of our industry is decided in the next eight months," Mr. Ranieri said.

Meg Handley is a business reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can reach her at mhandley@usnews.com and follow her on Twitter.