Foreclosures and Massachusetts Bankruptcies

Will the foreclosure crisis continue in the United States? Will there continue to be record foreclosures in Massachusetts? Will record Massachusetts bankruptcies continue? Massachusetts foreclosures are down 67% from last year, yet there are thousands of Massachusetts properties in or near foreclosures. According to real estate researchers, 23% of households nationally are “underwater” in their mortgages; research reporting company Zillow claims that the number is closer to 27%. Furthermore, if you count the true costs of selling, such as realtor fees, moving and closing costs, an even larger number of folks have “effective negative equity” in their homes.

There are two million homes in foreclosure or for which the homeowners are behind in their mortgages.
What is the historical context of this? According to research undertaken by Yale economist Robert Shiller, there were two land bubbles in the 1800’s, and only one in the twentieth century: a farmland oriented bubble in the late 1970’s. Wherefore, the housing bubble that began this century was an historical anomaly, albeit a drastic economic event, affecting the whole economy, and, arguably, much of the world. Dr. Shiller’s research concluded there would be a housing bubble in 2005, referring to it as an “extended asset class and not a full blown bubble, at least not yet.” The chart below shows why!

Bankruptcy Lawyer | An Infographic on the History of Home Values
Bankruptcy Lawyer | A History of Home Values

Dr. Shiller’s current opinion is consistent with his long-term view: land bubbles are few and far between and, considering the recent history will be “fairly rare” going forward. Fortunately, land and housing is not viewed as much as an investment as they were in the past.