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House Prices – Up Or Down In 2011?

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How soon will it be before people finally start using the term “depression” to describe what has happened to the U.S. housing market?  It has been four and a half years since housing prices began to decline, and they are still falling.  In fact, U.S. housing prices have now fallen further during this economic downturn than they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Just think about that.  We are now in unprecedented territory, and most analysts believe that U.S. house prices will continue to decline in 2011.  Mortgage rates have been moving up, mortgage delinquencies are on the rise again, U.S. mortgage lenders have really tightened lending standards and “foreclosuregate” continues to plague the entire mortgage industry.  It would be really nice for the overall economy if house prices did go up in 2011, but right now it looks like that simply is not going to happen.

For many U.S. homeowners, all of this is absolutely sickening.  Millions of homeowners are stuck in houses that they desperately want to sell, but they don’t want to take huge losses on their investments either.

Millions of other U.S. homeowners are stuck paying on mortgages that are for far, far more than their homes are now worth.

Could you imagine paying $400,000 for a home that is now only worth $200,000?

Unfortunately, U.S. house prices just continue to decline.

According to CoreLogic, U.S. house prices have fallen for four months in a row, and in November (the last month CoreLogic has released numbers for) housing prices actually fell 5.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Sadly, house prices have dropped so much at this point that we have entered truly historic territory.

According to Zillow, U.S. housing prices have declined a whopping 26 percent since their peak in June 2006.  Amazingly, this is even farther than house prices fell during the Great Depression.  From 1928 to 1933, U.S. housing prices only fell 25.9 percent.  A brand new record has now been established.

So have we hit bottom yet?

Will house prices recover in 2011?

Unfortunately, every indication seems to point to even more declines in U.S. home prices.  The following are five key factors that will continue to drive house prices down….

#1 Mortgage Rates Are Going Up

Over the past couple of months, mortgage rates in the United States have been moving up fairly steadily.  That is going to make mortgages even more expensive for potential home buyers.

#2 Mortgage Delinquencies Are Increasing Again

As we approached the end of 2010, the number of mortgages in the U.S. that are “seriously delinquent” started to creep up once again.  That means that we are likely to see another bump in foreclosures at some point in 2011.  There are already way, way too many homes on the market, so more foreclosures will only add even more supply to a market that already has way too many homes for sale.

#3 Mortgage Lenders Have Really Tightened Standards

Most large financial institutions have responded to the mistakes of the past decade by really, really tightening mortgage standards.  It is now much harder to get a home loan in the United States.  But if less people can qualify for a mortgage that means that less people will be out there buying homes.

#4 The Entire Mortgage Industry Continues To Be Mired In Legal Problems

Foreclosuregate is a huge story that simply refuses to go away.  For example, just the other day the highest court in Massachusetts voided the seizure of two homes after the big banks involved failed to prove that they actually held the mortgages at the time they foreclosed.  This case made headlines all over the nation, and precedents such as this will encourage even more homeowners to challenge their foreclosures in court.  This is going to be really bad for the big mortgage lenders and it is going to really slow down the pace of mortgage lending.

#5 The Underlying Economy Continues To Be Very Poor

The American people cannot afford to buy good homes if they do not have good jobs.  But today there are seven million fewer middle class jobs than there were about ten years ago.  As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Until there is a “jobs recovery” there simply is not going to be a “housing recovery”.

There are very few top economists that are actually optimistic about the U.S. housing market in 2011.  In fact, there seems to be an emerging consensus among analysts that house prices in America are going to decline quite substantially this year….

*Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics says that U.S. house prices are “double dipping” and that we will likely see another 5 percent decline in housing prices during 2011.

*Economist Nouriel Roubini recently declared to CNBC that the “double-dip” for the U.S. housing market has already arrived….

“It’s pretty clear the housing market has already double dipped.”

*Standard & Poor’s analysts are projecting that U.S. home prices will fall another seven to ten percent during 2011.

*Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries expects home prices to continue to fall until at least mid-2011 and he is convinced that more hard times for the U.S. real estate market are still to come….

“Zillow believes that we’ll see bottom in national home values in Q2 or Q3 of 2011 (more likely the latter), that home values will fall another 5-7% nationally (in the Zillow Home Value Index) between now and then, and that we’ll experience a very long, protracted bottom before home value appreciation returns to historically normal rates.

So it looks like the U.S. housing crash is going to continue for a while.

For those that make a living by building or selling homes, this has got to be very depressing news.

But for those that are seeking to buy a house or that are seeking to buy some land, there could potentially be some very good deals out there over the next year or two.

So what do you think is going to happen to house prices in 2011?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your analysis….

  • One cannot complain because housing prices are (trying) to go back to their normal, historical, level.

    They would probably be already back there without the “helicopter” flying above.

    Yet, charts show that there is another 20% or so to go down before getting back to normal; a lot of losses still to come…

    This, obviously, doesn’t disrupt the financial markets, which appear to have discounted for good the construction industry; a thing from the past, like the manufacturing industry.

    They are now entirely focused on the financial industry, the one that only produces crumbling houses of cards, a different kind of “housing business”.

    Back to the question: housing prices will keep on falling in 2011, unless they collapse with the rest of the economy!

    Click on my name to visit my blog.

  • notbuyinit

    This should turn out to be a banner year for new home sales – as long as the home is manufactured by Coleman, Wenzel or Cabela’s. What we have here is a perfect example of why you have to do your own reasoning and ignore the so-called analysts. The business channel today featured a few experts proclaiming that this would be a good year for home builders. How could any logical thinking person believe that drivel in light of all the unemployment, upside down mortgages, downpayment requirements and (justifiable) underwriters’ scrutiny issues that continue to plague would be buyers? As old Marvin Gaye counseled years ago, “Believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear.”


  • Michael

    I see prices dropping by at least 20% this year. In Q3 of ’09, case-shiller said prices declined by 5.7%. That’s about 20-25% on a yearly basis….It was obvious that once the stupid homebuyer tax credit wore off, prices would resume declining. If there is 8-9 years of inventory to clear, look for prices to go down a lot more.

  • gary is retarded

    Duh…..Tax da rich it will force housing prices through the roof!

  • Tyler

    House prices are simply too high.. Period. They were too high in 2008 and they’re still too expensive. I desire one day buying a house for $150k that 3-5 years ago went for $300k.. I am very confident in another year or two, I will be successful in my goal.

  • Jason

    One thing for sure is that the price of
    tents and camping equipment is going up.

  • Josey Wales

    I believe that housing prices will continue to fall. This article is optimistic in my opinion. The Fed keeps printing money,making the dollar worth less. We continue to loose jobs, or at best fail to create new jobs, so there are no new buyers entering the housing market. There could be a mass exoduse coming as people with money and ambition leave America to look for a new country with more opportunity, less taxes, and smarter people in government. Let’s face it, the elected officials in America are stupid, and doing everything they can to make the losers comfortable in this country. While demonizing and penalizing the ambitious, the hard working and the successful people in this country..Housing price in this country could be falling for decades to come.

    When the Roman Empire fell, there was a mass exodus from there as well, why should the fall of the American Empire be any different?

  • Matt

    In real terms (factoring out inflation) going down down down down down. Salaries of US workers are going to eventually equalize with those of the emerging economies like China and India, which means Americans will be making less money year after year after year for a long long time. Which means we will have less money to buy stuff. Which means in order for a home builder to sell a house, she is going to have to lower the price since Joe Lunchbucket doesn’t make that much cash anymore. Which will be the fundamental factor driving house prices down down down – slowly – over the next few decades.

  • I posted the following comment to a Seeking Alpha article this morning. You can read the article titled 5 Factors That Will Continue to Drive Housing Down at

    For me, an increase in U.S. house prices is fundamental to economic recovery. Without it Main Street Americans, who seem to me to have so much of their equity and retirement funding hopes tied up in their houses based on an underlying believe inflation would (and I presume many U.S. homeowners now ‘hope’ still ‘will’) propel house prices ever higher, will be even more reluctant to spend as consumers. Moreover and importantly, unemployed construction workers are largely going to stay unemployed if house prices continue continue to fall or don’t improve, which is bad for both U.S. economic recovery and continuing U.S. unemployment rates – the latter because this group of unemployed I see as largely ‘structurally unemployed’ (i.e. largely not trained to do other jobs, and I suspect to a large degree mis-located from where available jobs are located.

    I will be posting further commentary on this topic (and on problems with Statistics, and on 2011 Global Risks as perceived by the World Economic Forum) today in the e-mail I will be sending to over 10,000 Stock Research Portal Subscribers (a Resource Company Research Website). If interested, you can read that e-mail after 10:30 a.m. ET this morning at

    • Michael


      Seeking Alpha picks up articles from this site from time to time, and that is why the articles are exactly the same except for the title.

      In fact, you will find that articles from this site are picked up all over the Internet. I actually encourage other sites to pick up the articles because it helps spread the message to more people.


  • PatriotRider

    Housing prices will continue to slide throughout the year. Forget “bottoming” in Q3. This depression will only get worse as the US inches closer to the debt cliff and hyperinflation starts to grab a hold of the economy. Unfortunately, when inflation or hyperinflation kicks-in full force housing will probably not benefit. Only the currency will be most affected.

  • I’ve been very close to foreclosure for about a year. With over 130k CASH equity and an 80k mortgage in a house now worth about 100k, it makes me heartsick. To get foreclosed on now, Bank of America would get a big bonus, lucky them, off the cash that I put down when I bought the house. Small ray of hope though–did you know that you can shelter some of your home equity in a bankruptcy? I bet a lot of people don’t know what the bankruptcy home exemption in their state is. I had never heard of this because bankruptcy was never an option. It varies by state. In my state it’s 25k, so if I declare bankruptcy, I can possibly shelter 1/5th of my equity. It only works if you have a lot of cash equity in your house, ie, if the bankruptcy trustee wants to seize your home. Of course, you end up leaving, but you could be on the road to that already, in a foreclosure. This is something that everyone living on the edge should look into before they go into foreclosure, where you walk away with nothing.

  • Can I imagine paying a 400K note on a 200K house?

    Well, I’m in Nor Cal and I pay a 330K note on a 150K house!!! — and, no, I did NOT mtg to the hilt like many others. Hell, I could have borrowed up to a half mil in 2006.

    We have stopped paying (HSBC) and are approaching the 90 day no pay mark at the end of January….they will not negotiate. We had a mod that terminated in November. Not sure how to proceed, we may have to walk, but check this out….

    We are current looking for another home. Made offers on some Frannie Mae home path programs….good deals out there right now, but NO ONE will finance me because of the mtg lates! I offered 30K CASH DOWN on a 100K property and they told me to piss up a pole!

    How’s that for the new way of lending. This particular house has NO OFFERS! and they don’t want my money.


  • mondobeyondo

    “House prices – up or down in 2011?”

    Down. Way down. For all the reasons specified in the above article.

    Many of those people who HAVE houses, can’t afford to keep them (i.e. foreclosures and increasing property taxes). Many more of us are in even worse shape. Some of our fellow citizens are living in tent cities. So how could these people possibly qualify for/afford a house?

    Not by choice though. I assure you, they would love to live in a house instead of a tent…if they could.

    I fear for a nation with rock bottom housing prices. REALLY rock bottom! May I suggest Detroit? You could get a decent “fixer-upper” for under a thousand dollars there, from what I’ve heard. Very affordable!!

    Of course, you’ll have to install your own plumbing, heater, electric wires, etc., because thieves have long since ripped those out of the walls. And lots of paint, to paint over the graffiti. Don’t forget a private security guard (to keep yourself from getting murdered), pest control (for the rats), and so forth.

    No thanks, I’d prefer a tent!

  • Ohio Loan Officer

    There are a lot of homeowners out there that need to sell but who are unwilling to reduce their price even further. They are hanging on hoping for the housing recovery that is just not coming.
    Two of my neighbors, both elderly couples in poor health, have had their homes for sale for 3 years. They need to reduce their prices another 20 to 25% but both say they “Can’t” even though the homes are paid off. How much longer can they hang on?
    Another friend moved 1000 miles away. They have been renting their old home for over a year while it’s for sale but now the tenants are slow in paying. How much longer can they hang on?
    I heard it was like this back in the 1930s. Homeowners and business owners trying to “Hang On” hoping next month it would all be over and things would get better.

  • Ohio Loan Officer

    With that kind of cash down you should have bought the new house first as a 2nd home or investment property. Then you could have walked away from your current home.
    Now, unless you can get another mod you will have to wait at least 3 years for an FHA (may go longer soon) or 7 years for a conventional loan to buy a home.

  • El Pollo de Oro

    Property taxes are going through the roof all over The Banana Republic of America (the Third World horror movie that used to be the USA), and that will only make the foreclosure crisis worse. Americans who were already stuggling to pay their mortgages are having an even harder time now thanks to all these property tax hikes.

    But here is a “housing boom” that the BRA can look forward to in the near future: a boom in slum housing. When the White Shoe Boys, globalists and neo-feudalist robber barons declared war on the American middle class, they turned us into a Third World country—and one of the things you see in Third World countries are slums. They call them favelas in Rio de Janeiro, “villas miseries” in Buenos Aires, “los barrios” in Caracas and shantytowns in Kingston and Johannesburg. But whatever one calls them, we are going to be seeing a lot more of them in the BRA in the future. And the BRA slums will be full of folks who used to be part of the American middle class before the neo-feudalists destroyed their lives and forced them into bonecrushing poverty. Plus, the BRA slums will become breeding grounds for a variety of violent crime, much like Cité-Soleil in Haiti, Dharavi in Mumbai, Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro or Trenchtown inna Kingston. In the future, the neo-poor will be able to live rent-free in the BRA’s new favelas, but they will need to stay on friendly terms with the local drug lords who will be in charge.

    Welcome to The Banana Republic of America, land of the favela shantytown slum housing of the future.

  • Adjusted for today’s dollars, the average cost of a home in 1970 was about $125,000. In 2006, it was over $250,000. Today the average cost of a home in the US is currently about $175,000. So prices still need to go a bit lower, IMO.

  • Patriot One

    My forecast for 2011 is a decline of 19 to 29%. It is becoming increasely difficult to get accurate data as the markets decline.

    Real Estate agents on the local levels are no longer changing the list price when the property is sold. So on the roll up from the local boards the list and sale price are the same. One listing a Agent friend of mine looked at had a list and sale price of $450k. When I told him he was full of crap and to look at the tax records it sold for $89k.

    With the amount of manipulation of the numbers starting at the bottom. Its now impossible to now what real housing values are. I tell a lot of my clients its a good time to be a renter.

    We are seeing appraisals at $39 to $57 a square foot after they go thru the QVCC. At that rate, if you know construction, that’s material cost.

    My personal experience in 2004 I refinanced my home and was at a 47% LTV. by 2006 I was at a 39% LTV. Today I’m at 137% LTV,I’m underwater.

    Two homes have sold in my area for $205K and $250K these are St. Johns Riverfront homes 24 miles south of Jacksonville, Fl. with 2500 square foot homes. In the 90’S you couldn’t buy the lots for that price.

    My thoughts are that there is going to be a lot more pain in Real Estate. The earliest I see a change, if we don’t collapse first, is 2014 before we hit the bottom.

    At this point a public and private national bankruptcy may be a good thing. If the SHTF and we collapse we could be well on our way to recovery by 2014.

  • Yes housing prices are still dropping and here’s why.

    About 10 years ago, right at the start of the housing boom I watched my neighbors house being built from the ground up. The construction teams would come in and do their work, the cement company, the septic tank people, the electrical, the carpenters, the roofers the landscapers, the city inspector and so on. As each team came and went I added up what it would probably cost, including labor. When the rather small house was finished I came up with a figure of $70,000 total, for everything. Now tack on another 30 or 40k for the developer’s profit and it comes to a grand total of approximately $110,000 for this small quaint house in the middle of the desert, which is “much” cheaper than L.A. So I go over to the house after the Realty signs were put up and guess how much they wanted for this joint? Two hundred thirty four thousand dollars, that’s $234,000 !! Some dope bought it simply because he was happy the bank gave him a loan with no money down. Multiply this number by 3 and that’s what it cost some schmuck to finally pay it off in 30 years or about $700,000. That’s IF he doesn’t “refinance”. Bottom line is this. A house that costs $70,000 is bought and paid for over thirty years at a total price of $700,000. Now you know why homes are underwater and housing prices a tanking. That’s my story, the end.

  • My wife has been insisting lately that we
    purchase a ‘cabin’ in the mountains, just so
    we or the family will have a place to ‘get
    away’ to every once in a while. I have told
    her over and over that now is NOT a good time
    to buy, but she just keeps looking….

    I’ve stopped arguing with her, now I just nod
    and say, ‘yes, dear’: but there’s no way I’m
    letting her ACTUALLY buy a vacation home right
    now. MAYbe in one-two years, NO WAY NOW!

  • Michael2

    As long as homeowner’s pay taxes do they ever really “own” the property? Because if the taxes become too deliquent they sheriff sale the property anyway.

    I have long thought “ownership” under these terms is an illusion.

    Furthermore with all the building codes compliance issues, maintenance/insurance costs, liability concerns, etc. associated with home ownership the sytem has made it ever more difficult to “own” a home.

  • mondobeyondo

    Are house prices in trouble?

    Is the sky blue? Is the Pope Jewish?

    (Buzzz! Wrong! The Pope is Catholic. Trick question!) Ha!

    Classic issue of supply and demand. There is far more supply of real estate, than demand for it. Not just houses, but commercial real estate, those vacant strip malls and high rise towers. The pizza restaurant that closed shop 3 weeks ago. And they’re building more of them. Bad, bad idea.

    Because you know what? The existing structures, prebuilt, ready to occupy with a little cosmetic work, are already known as “ghettos” and “housing projects”, or “the bad part(s) of town”. We have houses and buildings at our feet, already constructed. But it’s “too costly” to refurbish them, and “too dangerous” for people to live there. Suburbs are cleaner and safer.

    And they are not all filled with bad people, either. Many are, it’s true. But it’s because there is hardly any opportunity to legally advance in such an environment. It will not stop them from advancing though, just the rules are a little different in the “hood”. Sell a few more grams of illegal drugs, and your local drug dealer will earn his Mercedes or Beamer. Just like the CEO across town would.

    Would I live downtown in an older house? Yes – if it were cheaper, and if I felt safe living there. But I currently don’t. Everyone would agree that being mugged, raped and shot is not a fun experience. So, maybe the developers in the suburbs have a point.

    The lack of demand in the housing market (and thus the lowering price) is not necessarily due to lack of desire in getting a house or real estate. The people who want to, simply can’t. Some things are more important than housing, like food for example. Certainly there’s an aspiring entrepreneur who would love to set up shop in some of that vacant real estate, but they can’t. Exactly why they can’t, will be left for another day and different discussion. Let’s just say a bad business climate in the U.S. has much to do with it.

    Unless you’re a termite, you can’t eat your house. Good luck trying though.

  • Greg Pinelli

    The housing market is PRECISELY the same as the stock market…Buyers of equities in 2000 are STILL hanging on to eke out a gain! It’s strictly an ego move…Those hanging on today haven’t faced up to the realities of FEW buyers…FEWER loans…and a potential huge downside. They are typically mid to late 50 people..and they have an entitled streak in them that defies logic!

    Housing has likely made all the recovery it’s going to…the rest is puff and fluff. We are in a HUGE ass slamming deflationary rathole…like it or not. In the NEXT stage of this CRASH there won’t be ANY buyers. And the Real Estate pimps swooping in (the few that are left) will pillage you. Sorry…those are the facts.

  • Jeremiah

    I am truly glad I do not have a mortgage or house to worry about. Being an apartment dweller has it’s upside. I have nothing for anyone to take and nothing to drop in value.

  • clark

    Pete still has signs up all over town saying he buys houses.
    I wonder if they are making money selling the same homes over and over like they do with used cars via repossession?

    It comes down to income, it must match prices.
    So, as others have alluded to, the question is when will incomes stabilize?
    My bet is, shortly after the biggest distortions in the marketplace have been removed, a.k.a. after they End The Fed and the free-market is allowed to sort things out as it should in a capitalist society.
    In other words, not until after things get much much worse.

  • Susan

    A great post, especially the number 3 one.

    #3 Mortgage Lenders Have Really Tightened Standards

    Most large financial institutions have responded to the mistakes of the past decade by really, really tightening mortgage standards.

    They know people are waking up to this, and know they have to tighten the range. When people thinking changes so do businesses and their practices.

    Alot of people think we are doomed, but there are still great ways to make money. Even while the economy is collapsing around us.

    I subscribe to the guy from australia and his FFT economic newsletter at that guy has called many big events before they have happend, including the stock market crash in 2008 and the current financial collapse of the US. (currently happening) I found him from a friend last year, and he has some important work.

    His oil calls are insane, and I have been making good money with them. He is well worth a look, if you want to keep two steps ahead of the sheeple out there.

    I am worried about my financial future. Is anyone else nervous out there?

  • Nickelthrower


    I predict that homes across the United States will be worth what homes in Detroit or Toledo are worth – nothing.

    The city of Toledo will give you an abandoned home if you agree to at least mow the lawn. That’s right, homes are worthless in Toledo. Detroit is no better with about 1/3 of the city abandoned. You’ve got your pick of homes there. In the town my parents live in, 5k will get you any number of three bedroom homes.

    Now the rest of the nation will get to see what it is like to live in the rust belt. You people did nothing as our factory jobs were shipped overseas. You guys wanted cheap foreign made goods and let our part of the country fall into ruin.

    Guess what? you guys are all, without exception, about to find out what it is like to live in Detroit. Think your home has value? think again.

    • Just noticed this but you did this to yourself by who you voted for. Do not blame others for your states inability to see when a Democrat is smoozing you. I think and hope that People are realizing that Democrats are not the Party for the People and actually the Party for themselves individually.

  • Oh great I can’t wait to see both inflation and recession at the same time. Housing will still be in deep hole, and it’ll be a long time before it become stable. Besides, there are leeches in the government who suck all the people’s blood! And to think that we allow those vote-seeking politicians to walk all over us!? We are stuck in the Greatest Depression ever. We help Americans find jobs and prosperity in Asia. For details, visit

  • PDM

    Buy some land. Learn natural building techniques – adobe, cob, straw bale, etc – through courses. Materials and labor are VERY inexpensive…if you research this. Build a small, off grid home. Free yourself.

  • Home prices will drop, there is an estimated 5 million foreclosures lined up for 2012. This was reported by Realestatetrak a few days ago. I think cardboard will be in demand, especially refrigerator boxes.

  • Prices have to keep falling until they are less than the cost to reconstruct the propery. Also the prices have to fall until the note payments average 30% of net average wages. Also, given we have a terrible over supply of houses this will force prices down even further. Given these natural economic factors at play, I believe prices have at least another 30 percent to fall.

    What is funny, the FED keeps printing money and claims there is no inflation because home prices are not rising. Although the price of everything else other than wages and housing are going through the roof. It is going to get ugly.

  • Zimbabwean Zombee

    US is returning back to the wild wild west once again.

  • I WAS licensed in two states but I think the City I USED to practice in is going to be in for some REALLY hard times coming soon.

    Las Vegas — Home values were decimated before all of the kick the can down the road programs were created so the majority of the damage has already been done.

    All you have to do is look at median home values in cities across the U.S. and see the disparity in prices between the foreclosure plagued cities and the ones that have held on and were not allowed to correct before all of the programs…

    Those home values will be sinking..

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