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Housing Collapse Figures Now Compare Only with Great Depression

Jan 29, 2008 (EIRNS)—Numerous new figures have recently come out on the depth and severity of the collapse of the nation's housing industry. Until now, all figures of this type had been referenced to 1991, the most recent slump in the housing market. Although significant, what is most notable about today's figures, is that they now eclipse those of 1991, and are being compared directly (and correctly) to those of the Great Depression.

  • Last week, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously owned homes posted the biggest drop in 25 years, with the median price of those homes falling for the first time "in at least four decades, and possibly since the Great Depression."

  • Census Bureau figures now show that overall national home ownership is now dropping, down to 67.8%, down 1.1% from the fourth quarter of 2006, and down 0.4% from third quarter of 2007. This is the biggest one-year drop "since recordkeeping began in 1965," again leaving only the Great Depression for comparison. Home ownership has been falling for three years, when it was at an all-time high of 69.2% in October of 2004. This is the vaunted figure which the Republicans have repeatedly thrown around to cite the overall success of their economic programs. No more.

  • Combined home foreclosures grew 75% last year (the December rate almost double from a year before), according to RealtyTrak, with 405,000 homes being repossessed (and that many families now "de-housed").

  • The price of homes continues to fall. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index, prices of existing homes have been falling for the entire year. Prices in November had dropped 7.7% from a year earlier (also the biggest drop on record), and, after dropping 6.1% in October, are now down for 11 months in a row.

  • Lennar Homes posted a record $1.2 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2007. Others are due to announce soon.