Almost $700 billion in home values went down the drain in 2011, according to new research. While that's 35 percent less than the $1 trillion that home values tanked in 2010 and the lowest total loss in four years, it brings the rolling tab of losses to more than $6.4 trillion since 2007.
Ouch. That's a long, hard fall after home prices surged more than $3 trillion dollars a year in the run-up to the crash.
Few metro areas were spared, according to research by real estate website Zillow—92 percent of all regions the company tracks posted net home value losses this year, with the biggest losers being Los Angeles (down $76 billion), New York (down $45 billion), and Chicago (down $42 billion).
The good news is that bleeding home values seem to have slowed. "Homes are losing value at a substantially slower pace as the market works its way towards the bottom," said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries in a release. "This year we saw some organic improvement in home values, in terms of a slowed depreciation rate which resulted in a smaller total value loss for the year."
Still, while home value drops might be tapering off, challenges still exist for the housing market and broader economy, particularly when it comes to the giant stock of homes for sale, sagging consumer confidence, high unemployment, and negative equity.
Those factors will continue to push home values lower, Humphries says, at least until late 2012 or early 2013 when most economists predict the housing market will "hit bottom" as far as home prices are concerned.