The U.S. housing market lost $3.3 trillion in value last year and almost one in six owners with mortgages owed more than their homes were worth as the economy went into recession, Zillow.com said.
The median estimated home price declined 11.6 percent in 2008 to $192,119 and homeowners lost $1.4 trillion in value in the fourth quarter alone, the Seattle-based real estate data service said in a report today.
“It’s like a runaway train gaining momentum,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s vice president of data and analytics, said in an interview. “It’s difficult to say when we’ll see a bottom to the housing market.”
The U.S. economy shrank the most in the fourth quarter since 1982, contracting at a 3.8 percent annual pace, the Commerce Department said on Jan. 30. Record foreclosures have pushed down prices as unemployment rose. More than 2.3 million properties got a default or auction notice or were seized by lenders last year, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a seller of data on defaults.
About $6.1 trillion of value has been lost since the housing market peaked in the second quarter of 2006 and last year’s decline was almost triple the $1.3 trillion lost in 2007, Zillow said.
Values have dropped for eight straight quarters. They fell in Manhattan for the first time since Zillow began including the New York City borough in its records two years ago.
“A witch’s brew of economic insecurity, foreclosures and tightened lending standards are helping to keep hard-hit markets down and to widen the scope of markets showing declines,” Humphries said in a statement accompanying the report.
The number of homeowners with negative equity, or those who owed more on their homes than the property was worth, rose to 17.6 percent from 14.3 percent in the third quarter, Zillow said. The company began its quarterly reports in 2006.