Home values in the United States fell faster in the first quarter of 2011 than they have in any quarter since 2008, when the housing market experienced its worst performance, according to Zillow's first quarter Real Estate Market Reports. The Zillow Home Value Index fell three percent from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, and declined 8.2 percent year-over-year to $169,600. Home values have fallen 29.5 percent since they peaked in June 2006.
Negative equity reached a new high mark with 28.4 percent of single-family homeowners with mortgages underwater at the end of the first quarter, up from 27 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. A homeowner is in negative equity when they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. Foreclosures rose throughout the first quarter as banks unfroze moratoriums and allowed foreclosures to resume. Foreclosures had fallen in late 2010 due to the slew of moratoriums brought about by the "robo-signing" controversy. In March, one out of every 1,000 homes in the country was lost to foreclosure.
With substantial home value declines, as well as increasing negative equity and foreclosures, Zillow forecasts show it is unlikely that home values will reach a bottom in 2011. First quarter data has prompted Zillow to revise its forecast, now predicting a bottom in 2012, at the earliest.
"Home value declines are currently equal to those we experienced during the darkest days of the housing recession. With accelerating declines during the first quarter, it is unreasonable to expect home values to return to stability by the end of 2011," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "We did expect substantial payback from the homebuyer tax credits, which buoyed the housing market last year, but underlying demand post-tax credit, as well as rising foreclosures and high negative equity rates, make it almost certain that we won't see a bottom in home values until 2012 or later."
Very few markets were exempt from home value declines in the first quarter. The vast majority (97 percent) of the 132 markets covered by Zillow logged home value declines. Only the Fort Myers, Fla., Champaign-Urbana, Ill. and Honolulu, Hawaii metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) experienced quarterly increases, with home values rising 2.4 percent, 0.8 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Home values in the Sarasota, Fla. market remained flat.