Homeowners ‘Overconfident’ About Home Values: Zillow

Mon, May 24, 2010


By: Brittany Dunn

In just one quarter, homeowners have gone from being overly cynical about the state of their own home’s value to being overly confident.

According to the Q1 Homeowner Confidence Survey conducted by Seattle-based Zillow, 50 percent of homeowners nationwide believe their own home’s value declined in the past year. But in reality, 65 percent of U.S. homes have dropped in value in the last 12 months.

This overconfidence brought Zillow’s Q1 2010 Home Value Misperception Index up to 5, a jump from -2 in the Q4 2009 index. Zillow said an index of zero indicates that homeowner perception is in line with reality, while a negative index suggests that homeowners are overly pessimistic about the value of their own home.

While homeowners were considered overly confident on a national basis, regional results varied.

The most cynical homeowners were in the West, even as home values in many California and Colorado metros have stabilized over the past year. According to the survey, just 18 percent of Western homeowners believed their home gained value over the past year, when in reality 31 percent of homes in this area have increased in value. As a result, the West posted a Home Value Misperception Index of -12.
On the other end of the spectrum were Southern homeowners. While many Southern markets continue to see significant decreases in home values, 34 percent of homeowners in this area said their home gained value in the past year. However, only 27 percent of homes in the South actually increased in value, which brought the Southern Home Value Misperception Index to 14.

Homeowners in the Northeast and Midwest seemed to be more realistic about home values. The Northeast recorded a Home Value Misperception Index of -2, and the index in the Midwest was 4.

“It is clear that there is a lag between market realities and public perceptions of home values,” said Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist.

The survey also found that 7 percent of homeowners, which translates into 5.3 million homes, said they would be “very likely” to put their home on the market in the next 12 months if they see sings of the housing market improving. By comparison, 5.2 million existing homes sold during all of 2009, Zillow said.

In addition, 8 percent of respondents surveyed said they would be “likely” to put their home on the market, and another 14 percent said they would be “somewhat likely.” According to Zillow, these sellers represent “sidelined sellers,” a component of shadow inventory that, if materialized, could significantly delay timing of market recovery.

“When homeowners across the country do start to believe that their home’s value has stopped declining, we can expect to see a lot of new inventory entering the market via sidelined sellers,” Humphries said. “This added inventory, combined with current elevated inventory levels and continued high rates of foreclosure in many areas, will likely serve to keep home values treading near the bottom for several years. Inventory must come down for home values to go up.”


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