Say you put 10% down on a purchase of a property. You borrow the next 90%. Say the price of the property goes down 10%, let's say you sell your property, you have lost your 10%. Let's say you walk away: you have lost your 10%. You have an incentive to go "long" on the property, hoping the prices will go back up.
But when your loan is "zero down" you don't care if the prices go down. This phenomena has been described in the US press as "jingle mail" and it is now appearing all over the EU. I just came back from Spain where it is starting to be particularly acute. People buy their second residences there, sometimes as investments. So when the prices go down, your financial incentive is simply to WALK AWAY.
This of course piles on the banks with a positive feedback loop: the prices go down, a lot of people walk away, so the offer increases, so the prices go further down until, accelerating the fall.
I don't see an easy out (even with bubble blowing from the FED).
1/ FED and ECB are making noise of INCREASING rates due to inflation concerns
2/ EURIBOR/LIBOR are at historic highs indicating 2 things a/ banks don't trust each other, someone is going to fall Bear style b/ Since so many loans are based on the EURIBOR it means the payments increase dramatically.
3/ Debt availability is going down. M3 is going down.
4/ I believe the demographics curve does not support growth of demand. The combination of the baby boomers numbers reaching full earning potential and now retirement means we have seen a temporary spurt of demand that is not likely to continue as the demographics curve is turning flat.
The drop in housing price, the source of the subprime crisis, the dollar debasing (via rates), the oil spike, and therefore generalized inflation is a self-reinforcing "positive feedback loop".
There is no stopping this thing. I come back from Spain where rentals yield 2% of capital. Just not really worth it from an owners standpoint and already rental prices are above what most people can afford.