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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Fed's Flow of Funds: Household Real Estate Value declined $213 billion in Q4

by Calculated Risk on 3/08/2012 12:31:00 PM

The Federal Reserve released the Q4 2011 Flow of Funds report today: Flow of Funds.

According to the Fed, household net worth peaked at $66.8 trillion in Q2 2007, and then net worth fell to $50.4 trillion in Q1 2009 (a loss of $16.4 trillion). Household net worth was at $58.5 trillion in Q4 2011 (up $8.0 trillion from the trough, but still down $8.4 trillion from the peak).

The Fed estimated that the value of household real estate fell $213 billion to $15.96 trillion in Q4 2011. The value of household real estate has fallen $6.75 trillion from the peak - and was still falling at the end of 2011.

Household Net Worth as Percent of GDP Click on graph for larger image.

This is the Households and Nonprofit net worth as a percent of GDP.

This includes real estate and financial assets (stocks, bonds, pension reserves, deposits, etc) net of liabilities (mostly mortgages). Note that this does NOT include public debt obligations.

This ratio was relatively stable for almost 50 years, and then we saw the stock market and housing bubbles.

Household Percent EquityThis graph shows homeowner percent equity since 1952.

Household percent equity (as measured by the Fed) collapsed when house prices fell sharply in 2007 and 2008.

In Q4 2011, household percent equity (of household real estate) was at 38.4% - down slightly from Q3, and only up slightly from the all time low of 37.2% in Q1 2009.

Note: about 30.3% of owner occupied households had no mortgage debt as of April 2010. So the approximately 52+ million households with mortgages have far less than 38.4% equity - and, according to CoreLogic, about 11.1 million households have negative equity.

Household Real Estate Assets Percent GDP The third graph shows household real estate assets and mortgage debt as a percent of GDP.

Mortgage debt declined by $42 billion in Q4. Mortgage debt has now declined by $777 billion from the peak. Studies suggest most of the decline in debt has been because of foreclosures (or short sales), but some of the decline is from homeowners paying down debt (sometimes so they can refinance at better rates).

Asset prices, as a percent of GDP, have fallen significantly and are only slightly above historical levels. Also the value of real estate, as a percent of GDP, is near the lows of the last 30 years - just above the low in 1997 following the previous housing (and much smaller) housing bust. However household mortgage debt, as a percent of GDP, is still historically very high, suggesting more deleveraging ahead for households.