Struggling to Make a House Call on Confidence

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Today's report on consumer confidence, or the striking lack of it, is yet another sign that housing is going to be in a very sticky state for a while. It's hard to say whether housing is weighing on confidence or lack of confidence is weighing on housing; the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Next week is a big week for housing because we get the all-important readings on existing and new home sales for May. The pending home sales index, based on contracts signed, not closings, fell dramatically in April, and that has the housing prognosticators building another arc for the flood of bad news yet to come. Home builder sentiment fell in June, largely based on competition from distressed properties and high material costs, but you can bet the builders know we're in for some tough sales numbers in their market as well.

I know I've said this before, but here I go again: All real estate is local, but confidence is national. Potential summer buyers, who are historically few and far between, will be watching the national numbers, as they try to time the bottom of the market, which is of course impossible to do.

You can't time the bottom of this market, because it will likely bounce along the bottom for several years. You also have no historical perspective because we've never seen a crash like this ever before. The two greatest factors that will keep us bouncing are the huge volume of distressed properties and uncertainty over the direction of new regulation in the mortgage market.

Regulators pushed back the deadline for a huge decision on risk retention for the mortgage market, and that has talk abounding that the entire proposal is going back to the drawing board. This is the proposal that would require, among many other things, a 20 percent down payment on loans for them to be exempt from risk retention. Without that, banks would have to hold 5 percent risk on their books when securitizing the loan.

All this uncertainty in the mortgage market, piled on top of all kinds of new regulations now going into action, just makes lending more expensive for the banks and borrowing more expensive for consumers. It's no surprise that confidence in housing is so low, despite the fact that now may in fact be one of the best times to get into the housing market. You just have to have a long view, which foreign buyers apparently have but Americans sorely lack.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @Diana_Olick