Housing and the Price of Gas

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A stylised fact of US political polling is that, national security aside, the price of gas drives presidential approval ratings. Could house prices might be even more important? If they were, it would be hard to prove statistically, since there are no previous episodes of nationally falling house prices. Which is worse for confidence: gas at say $5 a gallon, or another five figures wiped off your net worth? Perhaps the White House should be more worried about what happens to house prices between now and November 2012 than about what happens to the price of oil.

No respite from housing recession in the first quarter, says Zillow.

The figures are just awful:

Homes in the bottom price tier lost the most value in the first quarter, while homes in the top tier lost the least amount of value. The value of homes in the bottom tier fell 13.9 percent year-over-year, while homes in the middle tier fell 8.7 percent and homes in the top tier fell 4.3 percent.

Nearly three-quarters (74.5 percent) of homes in the United States lost value from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. That's up from Q4 2010, when 69.2 percent had lost value, but is down substantially from a peak of 85.5 percent in Q1 2009.

A record (37.7 percent) number of homes sold in March were sold for a loss. The rate of homes selling for a loss has steadily increased since June 2010.

And think about this:

Negative equity in the first quarter reached new high with 28.4 percent of all single-family homes with mortgages underwater, from 27 percent in Q4.

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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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