In the dark months from 2007 to 2009, home values were in free fall and millions of homeowners lost equity in their homes. America lost 12.7 trillion dollars’ worth of homeowners’ equity during those years, equal to more the three quarters of the national Gross Domestic Product.
This tragedy left a scar on an entire generation of homeowners and changed how many Americans think about homeownership. One quarter of homeowners with a mortgage were plunged into negative equity. Vulnerable to default, some seven million lost their homes to foreclosure. Seven years later, some 5.3 million homes—or 10.7 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage—are still underwater. Beyond these lost homes, millions of homeowners also lost their dreams of a comfortable retirement, the opportunity to refinance at attractive rates and their hopes to leave an estate to their loved ones.
While the housing crash was heartbreaking, the recovery has been nearly miraculous. In the past two years, housing gains and a strong stock market have restored $14.22 trillion to household wealth, the largest such increase in any two-year period in U.S. history, according to the Federal Reserve.
Homes.com has conducted the most comprehensive assessment and analysis of the rebound in housing prices. Unlike other measures, they track progress toward recovering peak prices in more than 800 housing markets. As a result, they discover trends in not just the bigger markets, some of whom suffer extreme price volatility as they recover from inflated prices during the boom and bust cycles, but also hundreds of smaller markets whose experiences have been quite different.
Nearly half of our markets have rebounded from the housing crash. Through July, some 449 of the 884 markets for which they report data, or 48.9 percent of America’s housing markets, have reached or exceeded median peak price levels. The nation’s leader is Juneau, AK, whose prices are 122.3 percent above peak; the slowest recovery is occurring in Fernley, Nev., a small town 34 miles from Reno, where prices are still only 55.27 percent of peak values.
Here are some of the ways America’s lost equity is coming home:
How Much Value Markets Lost Determines How Quickly They Return to Peaks. One of the myths about the housing crash is that everyone suffered. This is not true; Twenty-five of the nation’s 100 largest markets had a peak to trough decline of less than 10 percent and today all of them have rebounded. Some 37 of the largest markets had a peak to trough decline of between 10 and 20 percent and only 12 have rebounded. Markets with a peak to trough decline of more than 20 percent, some 38 of the largest markets, only two have rebounded.
Texas, Oklahoma Markets Lead the Nation. Five Texas markets and two Oklahoma markets lead the nation in price recovery. They share two advantages, minimal value loss during the housing decline and a resurgent oil and gas industry, which is creating jobs and a demand for housing.
Foreclosure Hotbeds are Rebounding Slowest, but Still Rebounding. Markets that are furthest from price recovery are largely former foreclosure markets located in “sand states” that suffered severe price declines exceeding 20 percent. Former foreclosure markets that lost more than 40 percent include Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla. (lost -48.47 percent. now at 69.12 percent of peak); Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla. (lost -49.14 percent, now at 68.26 percent of peak); Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. (lost -50.71 percent, now at 67.55 percent of peak); Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (lost -6.93 percent, now at 65.62 percent of peak);and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (lost-60.02 percent, now at 64.46 percent of peak).
Severe Losers with No Foreclosure History are Recovering. A number of markets that were not foreclosure centers but lost more than 20 percent in value are well on the way to recovery. One, Salt Lake City, Utah has exceeded peak value. It lost -22.25 percent and median price reached 101.37 percent in June. Other severely damaged markets that are close to recovery today are Provo-Orem, Utah (lost -24.27 percent now at 99.63 percent of peak); Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA (lost -27.64 percent now at 93.41 percent of peak(; Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI (lost -22.16 percent, now at 91.93 percent of peak); and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. (lost-30.33 percent, now at 91.58 percent of peak).
Smaller Markets are Recovering Slightly Faster than Big Ones. The nation’s top 100 markets have an average rebound rate of 101.49 percent. The 100 smallest have an average rate of 102.16 percent.
Recent moderating prices have slowed the rush to recovery but all of America’s markets are now more than half way home. Of the nation’s top 100 markets, 86 are 75 percent or more on the way to reaching their peak values. Even Las Vegas, epicenter of the housing crash, which lost more than 60 percent of its value today has restored nearly 65 percent of its peak value. Like the housing crash before it, the rebound, from small market to large, is once again changing how Americans think about homeownership, this time for the better.