Housing is not an investment like a stock or a bond, but over the long term it can be a great way to build equity. Even in the wake of the worst housing recession in modern history, a majority of homeowners who purchased at the national market’s peak in 2006 have positive equity today in their home. Homeowners who purchased since then and avoided the sharp price declines of the housing recession have fared much better. Interested in how your market has done? For insights on housing equity, price appreciation, employment trends and other local trends, see the 4th quarter 2013 Local Market Reports.
- The national median home price fell 27.8% from $225,067 in the 4th quarter of 2006 to $162,333 in the 4th quarter of 2011.
- Buyers who purchased at the 2006 4th quarter peak would have positive equity today in 58% of markets covered.
- Buyers who purchased in the 4th quarter of 2010 would have positive equity today in 84% of markets covered.
Many of the markets that have experienced the strongest improvement in equity are concentrated in the hardest hit areas, where prices rebounded since 2010. Los Angeles, Riverside, and Sacramento were all hard hit by the market decline, but have experienced sharp improvements since 2010 driven by relatively low prices, low mortgage rates, and investor demand. Notably, a number of other markets in the bottom 10 for 2006 did not experience this same strong appreciation including Reno, Las Vegas and several Florida markets. A number of factors contributed to this difference including employment trends, the judicial process for handling foreclosures, and investor interest.
Several programs including HAMP and HARP exist to help underwater borrowers refinance into more affordable situations by lowering mortgage rates and in some cases, particularly through private lenders, reducing principle. These programs are currently under debate for potential changes, but there are tens of thousands of borrowers outstanding who could still take advantage of these programs while mortgage rates are low.