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Any views in the article below, whether express or implied, are the author’s own, and do not reflect the views of ezLandlordForms, LLC. 

While the presidential candidates each cite different economic statistics and hurl accusations, one topic voters might like to understand better is how the real estate and rental markets today measure against the markets four years ago.  In an effort to provide both data and context, below are the facts on the most important metrics in gauging the health of America’s housing markets, and when possible we provide both the statistics from four years ago and the last statistics available from before President Obama took office.


Real Estate Investing News

Home Values
According to Zillow Inc, the median home value in America was $152,000 in August of 2012 and $176,000 in August of 2008, for a roughly 13.6% drop in average residential home values over the last four years.  However, home values were already trending downward when President Obama took office – on January 1, 2008 the median home value had dropped to $165,000.  The U.S. Census Bureau reports an average nationwide asking price of $134,600 in the second quarter of 2012, compared to $187,600 in the second quarter of 2008 and $162,100 in the fourth quarter of 2008. 

2. Homeownership Rate
The most recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate a homeownership rate of 65.5% in the second quarter of 2012, compared to a homeownership rate of 68.1% in the second quarter of 2008.  The homeownership rate in the last quarter before President Obama took office (Q4 2008) was 67.5%.  A drop of 2% represents roughly 2.65 million families (a family here defined as the occupants of a single housing unit) that went from being owner-occupants to renters.

3. Rents
The average asking rent in the top 82 markets in the country was $1,090 in the third quarter of 2012, compared to $719 in the third quarter of 2008, according to Reis Inc (a private research firm that tracks the largest real estate and rental markets nationwide).  Median asking rent nationwide according to the U.S. Census Bureau was $716 in the second quarter of 2012 compared to $686 in the second quarter of 2008.

4. Foreclosure Rate
In September 2012, there were 180,427 foreclosure filings (combined default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions), compared to 265,968 in September 2008 according to RealtyTrac, who leads the field in foreclosure research and statistical analysis. 

5. Housing Starts 
Construction began on 603,000 single family dwellings in September 2012, compared to 532,000 in September 2008.  For multi-family buildings intended to be rented, construction began on 53,000 units in the second quarter of 2012 compared to 67,000 units in the second quarter of 2008.

While interpretation of the data above is largely open to debate, a few concrete conclusions can be drawn.  First, more people today are renting than in 2008, which is reflected in higher rents, lower rental vacancy rates and a lower homeownership rate.  Second, real estate values are down precipitously since before President Obama took office, but the decline started before he took office, and they have started trending upward again in 2012.  Lastly, the foreclosure wave is ebbing, after years of wreaking havoc on real estate markets nationwide. 

In addition to being Vice President of ezLandlordForms, Brian Davis is a landlord and real estate investor, and has served as a rental industry expert for Investor’s Business Daily, CBS Radio and The Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets.  Any perceived views in the article above are his and his alone, and do not represent the views of ezLandlordForms.

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