Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Real Estate Wealth

The New York Times:

"The loss in total real estate wealth is expected to range from $2 trillion to $4 trillion, depending on how far home prices fall, according to several economists."

I think it may be worse than the ‘several economists’ estimate. At the peak, there was around $9 trillion in home equity and $10 trillion in mortgages. Entry level homes are now starting to move in a place I know at a ~35% discount relative to the peak. Most of that 35% comes out of home equity, not mortgage debt.

Extrapolating the 35% data point, around 70% of American home equity has gone away. That’s $7 trillion, not 2 to 4. Keeping in mind:

(1) The market I know was bonkers at the peak, and the 35% may be high relative to the national average.

(2) Between foreclosures, new construction, and homeowners waiting it out, supply is still spiking as demand falls. Prices will fall further and 35% may be seen as low when the smoke clears.

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