Home values: Separate and unequal pain
"I don't think numbers like an $880 billion equity loss are all that meaningful for most individual homeowners," said Jay Brinkmann, vice president for research and economics at the Mortgage Bankers Association and an expert on real estate cycles. "When you look at home price data over the last five years, you find that large parts of the country never got caught up" in the boom and bust cycle.
The losses are highly concentrated. "The Fed's [equity decline] numbers for the country as a whole are really being dragged down disproportionately by the big drops in prices in California, Florida and a handful of other states," said Brinkmann. "Most markets haven't been hit anywhere near as hard."
That doesn't mean you can pop the champagne corks if you live in Maryland, one of the states that did get caught up in the boom. Prices are falling here by most measures now, including this one. But it's good to remember that the harder-hit states are large, which means they will have an outsized effect on national figures. That's particularly true on foreclosures.
As you can see from yesterday's poll, some Wonk readers haven't been affected at all by the housing market -- or they're seeing upsides. (Of course, I don't know whether they're homeowners or renters.)