The worst of the U.S. housing crisis may finally be over, according to one leading analyst. But other reports show there's still a grim outlook for the future of home sales.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said he believes last month marked the bottom for housing as other economists expect housing to slowly come back in the next year.
That would be good news for the economy. A healthy housing market is important for a strong economic recovery from a recession.
Predictions on home prices vary. Zandi estimates they'll drop 5 percent by 2013, then gain at an annual pace of 3 percent.
Zandi recently wrote in an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer that the U.S. government should give Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae an increased role in refinancing mortgage loans.
"Their sole focus now should be on helping heal the housing and mortgage markets and overall economy," Zandi said. "Since Fred and Fan account for about half of all the mortgage loans outstanding, this is a big deal."
Still, President Barack Obama's efforts to keep struggling families in their homes is not having the desired effect. The government's mortgage relief program has failed to ease the foreclosure crisis.
More than half of homeowners who enrolled in the program have dropped out, and 51 percent of those who applied last month to have their mortgages lowered were disqualified.
"The problem is just so huge in magnitude that there's no viable solution that can come out of the government to solve it," said Anthony Sanders, a finance professor at George Mason University.
About 2.5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure since the recession started in December 2007, according to RealtyTrac Inc. And another 3.3 million homes could be lost to foreclosure or distressed sale over the next four years, according to Moody's Analytics.