Hopes of US House Prices Stabilizing
1. Before you read.
Discuss the following questions with your partner.
a. Do you or your family own a house, a country house or a flat?
Was it bought or did you inherit it?
b. Is it difficult to have a decent dwelling in your country/city?
c. Would you like to live separately or together with the relatives/distant relatives?
2. Read the text.
US house prices notched their biggest monthly gain in four years in July, raising hopes that residential property has bottomed out in the wake of the biggest decline in the market in more than half a century.
House prices rose by 1.6 per cent from June to July, the third monthly increase. The figures were better than economists predicted. Compared with a year ago, house prices were off by 13.3 per cent, the smallest year-on-year drop in 17 months. US home prices are now back to levels last seen in 2003 and are off their 2006 peak by 32.6 per cent.
“These figures continue to support an indication of stabilization in national real estate values, but we do need to be cautious in coming months,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Standard & Poor’s index comittee, which publishes the report. The housing market remains under pressure from record rates of home foreclosures and high unemployment.
The market has benefited from an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers and the Federal Reserve’s purchase of mortgage-backed securities – but the tax credit expires at the end of November, and the Fed is starting to taper off its purchases. Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, said: “We need to recognize that this is a sector still on life support.” He added that “there is a limit to the life support that can be provided” and housing would have to find its own equilibrium. Mr Fisher also echoed the recent message from Fed governor Kevin Warsh that when the US central bank decides to raise rates, it could do so quickly.
In July, Seattle and Las Vegas were the only cities with home prices falling from the previous month, while San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta saw the biggest monthly rises. It was noted that solid increases in hardest hit cities such as San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles offered the most promising signs of a turnround.
Consumers felt more gloomy about the job market and the chances of business conditions improving in the next six months. Wall Street analysts had expected consumer confidence to be lifted by the recent stock market rally and signs of improvement in the housing market.
This data does not tell us much about future spending but it does work in favour of fears that the consumer will be a laggard in this recovery and that this will be a defining feature behind an unusually slow rebound.
By Alan Rappeport, New York,
Krishna Guha, Washington
September, 29, 2009
3. Study the vocabulary:
|notched||гл. 1) зарубать, делать метку; прорезать; 2) делать запись, отмечать, записывать|
|residential property||имущество, собственность|
|real estate||недвижимое имущество, недвижимость|
|cautious||осторожный, осмотрительный, предусмотрительный|
|foreclosure||лишение права выкупа закладной|
|expire||закончиться, истечь (о сроках); юр. потерять силу (о законе)|
|to taper off||убывать, сходить на нет|
|echo||вторить, поддакивать, подражать|
|stock market||фондовая биржа|
|laggard||неповоротливый человек; увалень, копуша|
4. Create sentences of your own using the vocabulary above so that every sentence contains at least two of the words and the word-combinations from the vocabulary.
5. True or false.
Decide whether these statements are true or false and correct the false ones.
1. We can speak of some stabilization in national real estate market now.
2. Chicago, Atlanta and Washington DC saw the biggest monthly rises.
3. The economists predicted worse figures.
4. The prices for houses rose by 1.6 per cent from May to July.
5. We witnessed the biggest year-on-year drop in 17 months.
6. Dallas Fed said that there is no limit to the life support that can be provided.
7. Mr Fisher mentioned that the US central bank can raise rates.
8. The market has not benefited from an $8,000 tax credit.
9. Consumers are sure that business conditions will improve soon.
10. Nowadays you can buy a house at the price of 2003.
6. What do these numbers in the text refer to?
Answer the question, starting every sentence with the figure as a subject.
7. Find synonyms to the following words in the text:
3. to foresee
4. to go up, to increase
5. circumspect, discreet, prudent, wary, careful
6. enormous, huge, great
7. border, line, end
8. sad, pessimistic
9. to finish, to come to end
10. to remind
8. Fill in the diagram with an appropriate word in the centre, the one that will fit in all the collocations.
9. Retell the article.
10. Try to find some additional information about the prices for houses in our country and their development in the past few years. Analyze it. Compare with the situation in the USA. Is it similar? Why or why not?
5. 1. T; 2. F; 3. T; 4. F; 5. F; 6. F; 7. T; 8. F; 9. F; 10. T
7. 1. purchase; 2. gain; 3. to predict; 4. to raise; 5. cautious; 6. big; 7. limit; 8. gloomy; 9. to expire; 10. to echo
8. 1. gain; 2. property; 3. stock market