What Has the Housing Crash Cost Americans?

August 27, 2009

Source: Brett Arends, The Wall Street Journal

How much real wealth have Americans lost so far in the real estate crash?

The Federal Reserve estimates that the total market value of U.S. homes fell 18 percent from $21.9 trillion to $17.9 trillion or about $13,000 per person from the end of 2006 through March 31, 2009.

The Fed also estimates that homeowner's equity has declined 40 percent from the peak and now accounts for just 41.4 percent of real estate values. By comparison, after the last slump in the 1990s, home equity levels remained in the high 50s.

This collapse in equity makes it difficult for potential buyers to sell their homes and trade up, which many experts say will weigh heavily on the housing recovery.

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