SEATTLE, WA - The United States housing market continued its long decline in the third quarter with home values falling for the 17th consecutive quarter, according to Zillow Real Estate Market Reports(1). With home values 25 percent below their June 2006 peak, the current housing downturn is approaching Great Depression-era declines, when home values fell 25.9 percent in five years. The Zillow Home Value Index declined 4.3 percent year-over-year in the third quarter and 1.2 percent from the second quarter to $179,900.
Nearly one-quarter, or 23.2 percent of single-family homeowners with mortgages, were underwater on their mortgage in the third quarter, the highest it has been since Zillow began tracking negative equity in 2009. It rose from 22.5 percent in the second quarter.
In some markets, as many as four out of five single-family homeowners with mortgages were underwater on their mortgages in the third quarter. Las Vegas had the highest percentage, with 80.2 percent in negative equity, followed by Phoenix with 68.4 percent. In total, 11 markets tracked by Zillow had negative equity above 50 percent.
Home values fell from the second to the third quarter in 77 percent of markets covered in Zillow's report. In five of those markets – the California MSAs of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Ventura – home values began to fall again after five consecutive quarters of increases. Other markets that showed signs of stabilization in previous quarters also faltered, with home values flattening or becoming negative in large MSAs like Boston and Denver.
"While not unexpected, the unceasing declines in home values signal that we're in for a long, bleak winter of continued troubles for the housing market," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "The length and depth of the current housing recession is rivaling the Great Depression's real estate downturn, and, with encouraging signs fading, will easily eclipse it in the coming months.
"The high percentage of homeowners in negative equity continues to be troubling, in that it represents a huge number of people who are not only more vulnerable to foreclosure, but who are essentially trapped in their current homes and are prevented from selling and buying a new home. This has profound implications for future demand and will be a millstone around the neck of the housing market."
As home values continue to fall, additional signs of trouble have emerged. Foreclosures reached a new all-time peak, with 1.2 out of every 1,000 homeowners in the country losing their homes to foreclosure in September. Sales of homes previously foreclosed in the past 12 months reached a near-peak level in September, with foreclosure re-sales making up more than one-fifth (20.1 percent) of all sales. The last time foreclosure re-sales reached similar levels was in March 2009, when they made up 20.5 percent of all sales.
Additionally, more than one-quarter (27.3 percent) of homes sold in September were sold for a loss, marking a near-peak level. Homes sold for a loss peaked in February 2010, with 27.7 percent.
The full national report, in its interactive format, is available at www.zillow.com/local-info. Additionally, in most areas data is available at the state, metro, county, city, ZIP and neighborhood level.
Zillow.com is an online real estate marketplace where homeowners, buyers, sellers, renters, real estate agents and mortgage professionals find and share vital information about homes and mortgages. Launched in early 2006 with Zestimate® home values and data on millions of U.S. homes, Zillow has since added homes for sale and homes for rent, a directory of real estate and lending professionals, Zillow Advice, Zillow Mobile apps and Zillow Mortgage Marketplace. One of the most-visited U.S. real estate websites, with more than 12.5 million unique visitors per month, Zillow's goal is to help people become smarter about homes and real estate in every stage of their lives - home buying, selling, renting, remodeling and financing. The company is headquartered in Seattle and has raised $87 million in funding.