Real estate, consumer debt sectors suggest recovery


New economic data from two sectors suggests that a recovery is underway.

The latest housing numbers show that close to 1.5 million homeowners are no longer upside down. We were at a point where there was roughly 1 in 4 American homeowners under water. Today, we’re close to 1 in 5 as home values start to rise in more and more of country.

There are just a handful of states that account for more than a third of all “upsidedown-ness” in the overall housing picture. They include Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan.

In Nevada, 6 out of 10 (60%) homeowners are still upside down. Florida is second at 40%. Arizona is also at 40%, though they have the fastest growing home prices. But the thing is, home values in Arizona fell so far that it’s coming off a very low base. With Georgia and Michigan, neither state had a real estate bubble, but both had a bust because of a lack of jobs. When the jobs return, real estate values will recover as well.

In Georgia, in metro Atlanta particularly, in-town neighborhoods are in recovery, while the exurbs are having a terrible time with housing values because the commute times make them less desirable.

Meanwhile, new data from the American Bankers Association shows what Americans are spending to service debt represents the lowest percentage of income since the beginning of the Reagan era. This is yet another positive sign as a building block of our financial future.

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