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SAN FRANCISCO-California and the rest of the US are in a “great recession” and the recovery will be slow-going, predicts real estate guru Ken Rosen. The chairman of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at UC Berkeley presented his forecast at the organization’s 14th annual conference Monday at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

Millions of additional job losses combined with tight credit markets and the newly conservative consumer will force an increasing number of residential and commercial property delinquencies and foreclosures that will in turn put additional downward pressure on real estate values, Rosen predicted. Office values are already down 35% to 45%, he estimated.

The most likely scenario, he said, is that US GDP will fall by 4% this year, the unemployment rate will climb at least 160 basis points to 10.1%, and by the end of next year homeownership will have fallen to 66.5% from 69.2%. Office values are already down 35% to 45%, he said.

“The world is structurally changed and it’s going to take a long time to get back to a system that is sustainable,” Rosen said. “The underlying assets are still going down at accelerating rates.”

As for the federal stimulus package, Rosen estimates there is 20% chance the effort could moderate the impact of the recession.

As for real estate investing, for long-term holders the time is now to buy if you can afford it because values are down and the cost of debt will only increase, he says. “I would not wait two or three years,” he said. “Interest rates are going to be much higher with all the money [the US government is] printing.”

Ken Rosen confirmed the facts of this story for GlobeSt.com, which could not attend the event.

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