As the economy revs back to life, with signs of hiring on the horizon, the housing market is being left behind like Macaulay Culkin in “Home Alone.”
In the past few years, we’ve all been careful to choose our words carefully, not calling it a recession until it fit the technical definition and avoiding any inappropriate use of the “D” word — Depression.
Things were bad but the broader economy never reached Depression territory. The housing market, on the other hand, just crossed that threshold.
Home values have fallen 26 percent since their peak in June 2006, worse than the 25.9-percent decline seen during the Depression years between 1928 and 1933, Zillow reported.
November marked the 53rd consecutive month (4 ½ years) that home values have fallen.
What’s worse, it’s not over yet: Home values are expected to continue to slide as inventories pile up, and likely won’t recover until the job market improves.
Home prices have fallen 26 percent since their peak in 2006, exceeding the 25.9 percent drop registered in the five years between 1928 and 1933, the housing data company said in a report on Monday. Prices fell 0.8 percent over the month.
It is a dubious milestone for the U.S. housing market which has failed to gain much traction despite a host of government programs to reduce delinquencies and encourage demand with temporary tax credits and lower interest rates. Many economists expect further price drops, even if there are some anecdotal signs of growing demand, such as in pending home sales data.
“For the next six to nine months, the larger factors affecting the housing market that will produce more home price declines will be the excess inventory of homes, high negative equity and foreclosure rates, and weakened demand due to elevated employment, Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said in a blog post.
Declines are accelerating, and it will take a while before falling unemployment and other signs of economic improvement support the market, Zillow said.