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April 24th, 2012
07:21 PM ET

Letters to the President #1191: 'Housing prices: Still falling'

Reporter's Note: President Obama gets a letter from me every day. Well, he receives one; whether he ‘gets’ it or not is a different matter.

Dear Mr. President,

No one seems to be really covering the mortgage/home value crisis anymore. Sales reports come and go, market projections are made and forgotten, and by and large it seems as if everyone just shrugs and says, “Tell me something I don’t know.”

I can’t really blame folks. It’s tiring to hear bad news month after month, and that is pretty much all we’ve had on the housing front for quite some time. Oh sure, we’ve had the odd blip that looks a tiny bit better for a day or so, but not much more. The latest figures, out today, say that housing prices are at the lowest point in ten years.

What’s more, they appear to still be falling.

I realize that you have plenty of things to worry about in your re-election bid, but you might want to add an extra star next to this one. So many people have counted on the value of their homes as a type of savings I think the collapse of housing prices may actually be more far-reaching and calamitous than unemployment in the long run. It is, at the very moment, undermining plans for retirement, education, elder care, you name it.

And industry experts have told me that some places may well not recover their values for ten to twenty years. That is a very long time just to break even.

Certainly there is plenty of disagreement on what should be done about the situation; some lawmakers want to prop up the markets with various types of aid, some others think that’s a big mistake. But here is a certainty: Whether voters are looking very closely at this issue or not right now, sooner or later…unless prices rebound unexpectedly and dramatically…they’ll have to and no one is going to like what he or she sees.

Hope all is well.

Regards,
Tom

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