August 2008: $202,900
January 2009: $164,600
August 2012: $187,400
The housing collapse was one of the biggest calamities of the Great Recession. Home prices had been rising steadily for decades, reaching bubble territory in 2001. In July 2006, the monthly median sales price of existing homes peaked at $230,400, according to the National Association of Realtors, before falling 21%, to $181,300, in three years. Homeowners lost an estimated $7 trillion in equity when the bubble burst. Foreclosures peaked in 2010 with 2.9 million filings, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketplace of foreclosure properties.
The national housing market has stabilized and is just now starting its recovery. Median prices seem to have bottomed, hitting a low of $156,100 in February 2011. Existing home sales continued to improve in August 2012, according to NAR, rising 9.3% over the past year. Foreclosure filings were down, dropping 15% over the past year. And according to mortgage data firm CoreLogic, the number of homeowners who were "underwater" on their mortgages is down 6% this year, to 10.8 million.
Mortgage rates remain at record lows: The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.83% in September 2012, compared with 5.78% in January 2009, when Obama took office, and 6.64% in September 2008. If you were able to take advantage of such low rates by refinancing or buying your first home, congratulations -- the past four years have been kind to your housing situation.
Share your take in our online poll.
Data from the National Association of Realtors.