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10 Years After U.S. Housing Crash, Recovery is Not Even Across Many Markets

10 Years After U.S. Housing Crash, Recovery is Not Even Across Many Markets


A Handful of Powerful Markets Lead the Nation's Recovery, But Millions of Homeowners Are Still Waiting to Regain Lost Value

Zillow research is reporting this week that a decade after the collapse of the U.S. housing market and start of the Great Recession, home values have more than recovered in most of the U.S.'s largest markets. The markets with the highest gains above the mid-2000s bubble are primarily in the West and Southwest.

San Jose - the nation's most expensive metro - leads the way with a current median home value of $1.29 million, 74 percent higher than the top of the bubble and more than double its post-crash low. Denver follows with its median value of $397,800 representing a 66 percent increase from the bubble's peak, though, unlike other parts of the country, Denver never experienced a rapid run-up of prices during the bubble years. In all, home values in 21 of the nation's largest 35 markets are higher than their pre-recession peaks.

But plenty of markets are still struggling to recover their lost value. Homes in Las Vegas, which have seen some of the steepest gains in the country over the past year, remain 16 percent below their pre-bust median value. Orlando and Chicago home values remain nearly 14 percent below.

September 15 marks the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, generally considered the start of the Great Recession By the end of 2011 home values nationwide had dropped 17 percent, and close to a third of homeowners were underwater in their mortgages. Millions of people lost homes to foreclosure.

Today, median home values nationwide are about 8.7 percent above what they were at the bubble's peak, and more than half the nation's homes have regained their lost value. Less than 10 percent of homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, though that number jumps to the mid-teens in markets like Chicago and Baltimore where recovery has been stubbornly slow.

"A decade after the financial crisis it's clear that, just as the bust was felt very differently across the country, so has the recovery. Looking back, the housing bust was a rare historical moment when housing markets across the country moved in sync," said Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas. "While markets like San Jose, San Francisco and Denver have led the country out of the bust and are doing very well - in many cases now dealing with an affordability crisis - plenty of markets continue to bear visible scars from the crash. Homes that still are worth less than they were a decade ago mean more long-term homeowners remain tethered to underwater mortgages, still struggling to regain that lost value. In the markets that have seen the strongest recoveries, a combination of strong job growth, tight supply and low interest rates have pushed home values upward. But in places that continue to struggle, the stimulus of low mortgage rates is quickly turning to a headwind and the window for a full recovery is quickly closing."

Following the crash, lending tightened significantly and inventory shrank throughout the country. Nationwide, the median home value is now about what it would have been had values continued on the pre-bubble trend without a bubble or bust. Homeownership rates nationally are beginning to climb but are still down more than four percent from 2006.

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