The pricing recovery, Harney says, will take years. According to a recent report from the analytics firm Fiserv, prices won't return to their pre-bubble levels until 2023.
Harney says this lag is due to the way people viewed housing during the boom years. "In the past, if you stayed in a home you bought, you're going to walk away with a package for your retirement. No one saw housing as an investment," he says. "Then 2004, 2005, and 2006 came along, and everyone thought it was a six-month investment. They thought that you could buy a house and sell it the next year for a big dollar amount. That feeling permeated the country."
Like Harney, Resource Real Estate's Finkel remains relatively unmoved by the positive housing signs. He says housing has been in decline for so long that people desperately want it to improve—and they'll ignore information that points to a flat market.
"I'm very skeptical that we're in an environment where housing prices are going to rise. There are a lot of foreclosures that are in process right now. There's a lot of supply overhang," he says.
Finkel adds that he doesn't think housing can fully recover until the broader economy improves. "In the short term, the dire jobs situation is more important than housing prices. Until you get real job growth and get real pricing power with incomes, it's hard for me to see a real housing rebound," he says. "People have to pay their mortgages somehow."