Well, it was nice while it lasted. After a few similar houses recently sold in our area, it seems *ours* is just not worth what it used to be anymore ($300,000). Which is sadly down $60,000 from the original price we paid years ago at around $360,000! Ugh…
As of now, our house is valued at $285,000.
A pretty tough number to swallow to say the least. Especially considering it’s still the EXACT same house, ya know? It’s not like we did anything worse with it over the years or it caved in or anything. Just goes to show how large outside variables play in determining home values these days, just like with gold and my ring we talked about the other day. When the economy changes, it influences so many other aspects of our lives too! It’s not going to be a fun next net worth update, that’s for sure…
Though in all honesty it could be a lot worse. The DC area got hit pretty hard, but not nearly as much as some other states like California and Florida and Michigan, etc. And the fact that houses are now SELLING around our areas are freakin’ great. It means lots of people are getting back to normal again and not foreclosing every other second! (Which I’m pretty sure was the reason it dropped that first $60k to begin with – our neighborhood wasn’t free from people walking away from their homes unfortunately… which always screws the rest of the people living there!).
There are other positive things that come out of this too. For one, we now KNOW what our house is fairly valued at. And it’s *not* what Zillow continues to think it is at $325,000 (come on now! Haha…). It’s also not “in theory” anymore either, which I love – we now know exactly what we’re dealing with here which is always a plus as far as I’m concerned. The last time I was budgeting in my head I was LOSING money every month without even a clue! You gotta know the dirty facts when you’re shooting for a goal, it’s elementary my dear friends :)
Another important thing to remember here, is that it also doesn’t even MATTER much until it’s actually time to sell the house. The whole story could change two years from now (or even twenty years from now), and it’s only at this given point of time that we know for sure it’s valued at around $285,000. Until we sell it, we don’t officially lose any money on the thing. And as much as I wish we COULD offload it and downsize into much quainter and cheaper house, it’s still not in the cards at all for the near future. At the very best we can rent it out and hope to make enough to cover the mortgage while we go exploring elsewhere. Pending baby and wife approval, of course :)
So what does a guy do from here? Well, there’s really nothing we CAN do except for continuing to pay down those dang mortgages faster and faster until we hit our goals of zero debt. It doesn’t really have anything to do w/ changing the value of our house or anything, but it is the one thing we have 100% control over. Staying on our finances and doing our best to grow them as best as we possibly can. The market and economy will do its thing behind our backs no matter what we do, but as long as we stay true to our plans and continue inching forward, in the end I believe we’ll truly pull ahead. Even if the “value” of our house dropped to $0.00, we’d still have a nice and safe roof over our head!
What do you guys think about real estate lately? Anyone else see losses in their home recently? Do you even care/watch it at all? ;) I’m gonna go and run the numbers for June’s net worth now and see how badly it affects us… wish me luck!
PS: It’s a good thing we refinanced when we did! Our house is now $75,000 underwater from where it used to be originally – d’oh! Though we’ve also since paid off $30k of that too, so I guess we’re technically $45k underwater at this point… a little bit better?
(Photo by borkur.net)
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I am not a home owner so maybe there is more to it than I think but I never got the walking away from your house thing. I understand it f you could not make the payments but not just because it is underwater. You will never realize the loss until you sell the house so just hold on to it. Like I said I have never invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in anything so I guess I do not know what it is like.
I am sure the new net worth update will be a hard pill to swallow so good luck! BTW, the pill might go down better if you have a few PBRs to wash it down with. :)
Stinks your house value went down so much but hopefully the DC market will recover quickly. Houses are insanely expensive up there so being on the lower end should help. I bought in late 2011 so even if my house has dropped it hasn’t been much but I’m not planning on selling anytime soon so like you it doesn’t really matter until you lock it in.
Im curious…what area of DC do you live in?
I feel your pain. We bought our house for $275k back at the height of the market in 2006, and now we’re told our house is worth $200k if we’re lucky. Thankfully we aren’t underwater because we made a sizable down payment when we bought (money from the last townhouse selling), but it still throws a wrench in things when we consider selling and moving to another slightly bigger house because we don’t see the prices recovering much anytime soon. Oh well, at least we sold our townhouse and made a nice profit on that at the same time 6 years ago!
If you’re not using Zillow what website are you using to determine your house worth? I’ve been using Zillow and if there is another site please let me know so I can make accurate on my monthly net worth. Thanks
That blows. We’re in Dale City and the opposite happened. The recent sales boosted us and now we’re up about $70,000 over what we paid in 2008. I have no idea if we’d sell for that NIH since we have 20 year old kitchen and baths, but the new appraisal knocked out our PMI when we refinanced.
Timely article! I’m on my way to close on my first house this morning. The couple we’re buying from are taking a $75,000 hit on the price of the house PLUS they’re having to bring around $20k to the table to close for realtor fees and my closing fees. I feel really bad for them, but if it wasn’t for their loss I would never be able to afford the home.
@Marc @ Fat And Broke – HAH! Not a bad idea at all ;) Maybe I’ll chug one right before calculating that last grand total! (And I agree w/ the whole not walking away situation too – certain circumstances aside, it really pisses me off to read/hear about.)
@Lance@MoneyLife&More – Yup! And so far I’ve heard the DC market has indeed started seeing some action (hence, the houses around my area now being sold and bought up) so I’m def. hoping it continues!
@RT – The northern part ;)
@Peter – Yeah!! There you go! And also if you go and upgrade anytime soon, that house will be a lot cheaper now than back then too! Some great perks about it indeed, but monstly more cons for a lot of us, haha…
@Devan – I don’t use Zillow because I don’t find it accurate in my area (though others swear by it), and instead I use actual real estate prices around my area and/or my realtor. If houses like yours are selling for X amount out there, it’s a good indicator that yours would probably sell for around the same. Though the only time you’re gonna know 100% is when you actually have a buyer on the other side sending you over a contract ;)
@A Family of Geeks – Wow, well that’s good! You found a sneaky pocket! :)
@SMB – Haha, yup :) Right now is one of the best times ever to pick up a first house as you’re not losing anything on your old one, and housing prices are depressed all over the place. Way to capitalize!
I actually track my net worth 2 ways: 1 with the Zillow price and 1 with the price we paid. The Zillow price is higher, and the reality is probably somewhere in between. Regardless, we’re not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
I’m curious why you’re paying down the debt though. The last time I re-fied (at 4% over 30), I decided to stop overpaying the mortgage so I could use the additional funds to beef up emergency savings and then start investing the difference. I certainly believe I can generate a tax adjusted return over the tax adjusted savings of the guaranteed mortgage pay down. Are you that poor of an investor :-) or just REALLY debt averse?
I check Zillow almost daily. The positive is that my current house is estimated higher than what I bought it for over a year ago. The negative is that I had to lose 130k in equity on the house I sold to buy this one.
I used to look at Zillow for our home price, but now I just take that with a grain of salt. Our house is one of the nicer houses on the block, but for some reason it says that our house is around 20% less than the houses around us. Ours is newer, finished basement, garage, more sq. feet, more bathrooms and bedrooms, etc. I contacted Zillow and they said our house is a glitch and they are trying to fix it!
It has value. You live in it. It’s a house not an investment, and the actual market cost doesn’t matter until you want to or have to sell.
This mania about tracking house costs ( yeah – it’s up today, I’m rich!…boo, it’s down today, I’m poor!), is part of what lead us to the housing bubble.
I’m not sure how/where you got this new value, but you seem pretty convinced its accurate and for sure. I work in the real estate business (the lending side…not a realtor). But, realtor’s estimates and even appraisers reports have a HUGE subjective element to them. You really won’t know what your house is worth until you try to sell and see what a buyer in the fair market will pay for it.
It is commonly accepted that 3 different appraisers could go to the same house and provided they are within 10% of each other, they could all be deemed accurate. So, one could say $270,000, one could say $300,000 and one could say $330,000 and they would all be accepted appraisals.
Don’t get bummed about…because like you said, you haven’t lost a dime until you sell at a loss. And, all these estimates, are just that, estimates!
If you’re paying PMI then you may want to keep a close eye on your home value because a rising home value could eliminate that payment. That and property taxes are probably the most important reasons for monitoring your home value even if you’re not selling.
In our area, there is a crapload of short sales, it nuts. There’s not as many foreclosures, but still a good amount. It’s weird though because houses are going like hotcakes around here, like multiple offers the first day they hit the market.
It’s demoralizing to see your equity goes down even with the extra payment. Our house is probably down a bit too, but I’m not paying much attention to it right now. There is not much we can do and we’re not planning to move soon anyway.
My condo actually appraised higher than my contract price (just by a little bit) and if I do a CMA now myself (and it’s not that long after closing), it’s actually higher than that. I’m using the appraised value in my personal net worth spreadsheets – that’s a free extra bit of equity! Though I’m not planning on selling this year since I just bought it, I’m not that concerned about it.
I am not planning on moving anytime soon, in fact I refinanced a few months ago into a 15 year at a ridiculously low rate. I bought in 2006, the peak of the market, only because that’s when I was ready to buy. It was just bad timing. If I sold today, I would take a loss of around 10% based on the appraisal I had done for the refinance. But, I always looked at it like this: if I were to sell at a loss, whatever new home I would be purchasing would be worth less than it was in 2006 as well, so it would be a wash. All things equal, everyone’s homes are worth less (generally speaking).
Mr. Everyday Dollar
I just bought this year and the same unit layout as mine in another building already sold for $50K higher than what I paid (basically a month after I bought), but like you, I don’t pay ANY attention to that or to Zillow because it is meaningless until I either pay off my mortgage in full or want to sell the apt. or refi or something like that. I’m doing the same as you, just staying focused on paying it off.
Our old house was $109k (bought in 2004). Once the real estate bubble burst, almost our entire neighborhood turned into rentals and unfortunately, became an extremely unsafe area to live. Last July it was worth $33k!!! We ended up having to do a short sale for $35k. It hurts, but I just couldn’t raise my son around daily shootings, home invasions, etc. :/ Attempted to rent out, but couldn’t even ask enough to cover our mortgage since investors snatched up all the cheap foreclosures and could offer low rent. Now the same house has a value of $29k.
Just wanted to reiterate the reasons for me tracking this house value stuff: To get as close to an accurate net worth as possible. My goal with all this stuff is to reach a million dollars in net worth and $0 mortgage debt, so for me it’s important to keep on it and motivate myself to grow. If you think it would drive yourself crazy – don’t do it! It just helps me stay focused and so I tend to blog about it a lot :) Def. not for everyone…
@slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com – Haha… maybe a little of both? All I’d been doing for the past few years was saving and investing all my extra money while the whole time ignorming my mortgages. I decided one day to finally look them in the eye and just tackle them head on. I’m pretty sure I’d make more money in the long run investing over paying off the debt, but emotionally I’m just 1,000x more excited to pay it off and be completely debt-free 100% – where I can THEN go back to investing hardcore and all that… and I wouldn’t need to make as much by then as well since my life expenses would be cut drastically having no more mortgages ;) Not the best call for others out there, but def. for me so far. I put emotions slightly higher than facts with this stuff.
@Adam Hathaway – Ouch! Cool you’re tracking it all though – I think it helps despite what others say ;)
@Michelle – Nice! At the end of the day at least you know you’d get more in a sale which is the most important part there ;)
@Diane – Perhaps, but I’d take being informed of the ups and downs over being oblivious any day :) I feel good knowing where I stand in any given month.
@Nicole – Yup! You’re totally right. We won’t know for sure till it’s time to put it on up there for sale :) I wouldn’t be suprised if it was a little higher or lower than my new $285k estimate, BUT I think it’s important to have some sort of solid base there for reporting issues and the net worth updates, so for me right now the $285k seems to make the most sense. I’m sure it’ll continue to change with everything else as time goes on.
@mga911 – Luckily we don’t pay PMI and our taxes have gone down DOWN down since last year :) Well, “lucky” for saving more money here, but ofcourse at the expense of thousands of dollars in equity – which I’d take any day!
@Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – Wowwww, we’ll that’s promising!! Not the shortsales parts, but the hot action going around town :) Maybe it’s a sign there’s beautiful things to come?
@Joe @ Retire By 40 – True true, it’s good you know yourself and what to pay attention to as well :) I put a lot of value on getting my net worth as close to correctness as possible, so I’m constantly updating things either way.
@Leigh – Well that’s good – congrats!! You’re beating millions of other Americans out there underwater like yours truly :)
@Mr. Everyday Dollar – Yup, true that my friend! Great job on securing that 15 year mortgage too – that’s incredible. It’s on my list to take on too in the next few years :)
@brooklyn money – Yeah doggy! That’s all we can do, right? Focus and pay those dang things off! One day we’ll have to drink some beers together in success :)
@Angella – Oh no!!! That’s so unfortunately, I’m sorry :( Man… I’d get out of there as fast as you could too – NO MONEY SITUATION would keep me or my children in harm’s way!! Life is so much more valuable than that, so way to get out of there and take care of your family… what a mess. I hope things are better wherever you’re living now!
Sorry to hear about your house. I’m definitely lucking out and my house has increased in value. Yeah, proper permitting and bathroom upgrades.
Ours lost value according to our property tax assessment (which they’ve been doing every year in an attempt to get more money). That’s probably because we’re in a worse school zone than we used to be in.
Sucks dude, bit like you saidyou really don’t know the value until you sell it. Besides bringing baby home for the first time will add more value to your life and that’s priceless. You can sulk about the house later ;)
I have never been shy about saying I own a mobile home and for good reason. Because of my background I knew if something happened I could afford it. It did lose value and isn’t worth what I was hoping, but it affords me other luxuries.
I did a report on unemployment, and the oil boom in ND and figured even if I paid all the moving companies to move my mobile home there and then sold it, I would still make a some good money. Almost did too because I have so many friends offering me jobs there.
Instead of moving there or anywhere else I finally decided to stick with my (5 year, now 10 year) plan and stay put. It’s funny how life changes and homes don’t seem quite as important as they once did. Guess when you get OLDER priorities change ;)
I feel your pain. But, since I live in Southern California, it’s even worse! Try being $155k underwater and you will understand how I feel every time I check Zillow! I’m standing firm because fortunately, I can afford my mortgage payments. That doesn’t mean I like it though!!!
We paid ~$183K for our condo in 2010 (on a short sale, no less!), and now similar units in our complex are going for ~$140K. I know that we’ll only realize the loss if we sell (which we probably won’t do for at least five years because of the PhD program I got into), but it still sucks. I feel your pain, bro!
Like you said, watching your homes value go up and down is pretty much meaningless unless you are getting ready to sell. Of course, it still stinks that the value went down, but at least for now its only “paper value”.
We are just starting the process of searching for our first home. We live in Seattle and this stuff is expensive! I’ve been feeling sorry for myself about the home prices lately.
Hey J.Money, don’t count your house value into your equity!!! You’ve got enough to worry about with the babe just around the corner, and your investments are doing great. Focus on the great stuff in your life, ( theres plenty and I know you know it) all will be well. I live in top Canadian city and paid $525000. for my starter home last year. See… you’re feeling better already aren’t you??? LOL.
Two stock market crashes and a housing bust has turned me into a paranoid financial monk. The only investment I believe in is cold hard cash. The lure of cheap homes and stocks have been tempting but I still stay the course and just hoard my cash in my .75% “high yield” (LOL) savings account that is susceptable to inflation…oh well it allows me to sleep at night having a big emergency fund. I wish I could get myself to buy guns and bullets too but I think I’d rather opt out of life if it got that drastic…
How much is your house worth? What somebody else pays for it. Not what a realtor, assessor, or claims adjuster says it is.
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Nice! That’s gotta feel good!
@Nicoleandmaggie – Hmmm… it may have gone down for sure, but I usually don’t put too much stock into the tax assesments as those numbers aren’t a good indicator of actual price really either – just an overall trend really from what I’ve seen. Ours had been in the upper $300ks for years – even when our house was worth way less – and then just recently went down to the $260ks which is also off. But at least there we get to pay less taxes on our places, eh? :)
@LB – WOAH!! VERY cool! I totally forgot you lived in a mobile home – that’s awesome! And incredibly good financial-wise too :) If you ever want to write about it one day – maybe the pros and cons or your overall feelings/plans? – let me know… would love to have a guest post on what it’s like living in a trailer ;) (Of course we’d have to put “trailer” in the headline so people click! haha…)
@Nina – Oh wow, I’m sorry! But yes, DEF good you can afford it – that’s the most important thing right now for sure :) We’ll stand in solidarity together, my friend!
@Bryan – Oh jeez, good thing you got the short sale then too, huh?! :)
@KDB – Yup. If you like to track it like I do, it’s great having a number to put down there that’s somewhat accuraate :)
@Hannah – Well it’s a GREAT time to pick up a home while everythings depressed, that’s for sure. Just be careful of sticking inside your budget and understanding that you WILL need lots of cash in the bank too to cover maintenance and other unforeseen stuff that SUCKS from home ownership. I never took that part really seriously but it’s an important factor in considering home ownership. Not to scare you away or anything ;)
@stephanie – Haha… I’ll only feel better if you’re ABOVE water! :) But I’m allowed to vent every now and then, eh? Just check out today’s Net Worth update too, haha… 2 days in a ROW of me being pissed! But I gotta keep it real, my friend. That’s why y’all like to read the site, yeah?
@StackingCash – I’ll go out and buy a gun with you!! I want one a lot, as well as bullets and crops and an underground bunker just in case ;) This last crazy ass storm that passed through this weekend reminded me of how much we all rely on electricity and everyone else and when it goes down the people go mad! Haha… At least we’re thinking about this stuff though rather than being completely oblivious ;)
@Edward Antrobus – True, but you gotta put a number on it the best you can if you’re tracking your net worth ;) And someone just decided a home in our area like ours was worth $285k and paid for it.
I think it is pretty hard to gage the value of one’s house in the DC area to too close of a number. I am in the northern suburbs of DC. We purchased our house 2 years ago as a foreclosure at $292k, but had to add an HVAC system and do alot of work on the house. I am 100% convinced my house is worth $300k on the money. Crappier houses than ours sell for less in our neighbrohood, and nicer ones higher, and comparable ones always right at $300k. Zillow tells us $332k which is total crap. And we just refinanced this week and the apraisal came in at $325k which I also think is way off.
Also one has to consider that your home would not yield the full value if you had to sell it. You are going to lose 6% off the top to the realtors.
Yup! Def. hard to pinpoint exactly until the day you have buyers ready to hand over the money ;) We just gotta do our best to evaluate it as time goes on if it’s important enough to us.
Don’t worry; home value is theoretical unless you’re buying or selling. The “value” you get from the home during the time you live there is the “utility” — the fact that you live there! You won’t know your home’s final value until you sell it.
We are currently trying to sell our house in MI and we are just hoping that we don’t lose our shirts in the process. Our realtor was really confident when we listed it in February and we’ve already dropped the price $20k since then! I’m just hoping now that we didn’t miss our opportunity because we started too high. We’re currently listed just $5000 over what we paid for the house in 2006 and we put at least $50k into updates and renovations that we will never see. We really need the house to go so we can get a renovation mortgage on the new house. We just bought at the wrong time and in the wrong place. :-/ Hopefully, we did the complete opposite with the new house! :)
@Paula @ Afford Anything – I know, but it’s still worth less at this given moment of time ;) And we gotta keep on updating that Net Worth!
@Erin S – Yeah, there you go! The pros from the new house helps cancel out the old one :) And your new one is sooooo freakin’ BEAUTIFUL!!! I’d trade for that in a heart beat, way to score on that one. Soon enough you’ll have it all figured out!
No doubt that is an emotional hit, but as you say, as long as your aren’t planning to sell anytime soon, it doesn’t matter. Kind of like people who check the stock market all the time and panic when their stock drops. Hopefully in a few years the value will rebound.
Thankfully, where our house is located, the value didn’t go down that much. We have renters, though, that cover the mortgage, taxes and insurance so we’re lucky. But, even if the value goes down, we’ll just ride it out because I believe it will lead to a bounce back of the market at some point.
@Melissa@LittleHouseInTheValley – GREAT example for sure – I check them every single day (sometimes twice! haha…) but I tend to like the drama that comes with the stocks too ;) Even though it’ll be YEARRRRRS till I ever need to touch it.
@Jerry – I agree – riding it out is def. the best way to go if you can do it… maybe our house will one day become an investment property?
Our city/county and neighborhood have been seeing a boom lately, where sale prices have gone up 10-15% over the last 18 months or so. This has been good news. I use a combination of Zillow, the city assessed value, and comparable sales to determine my estimated value. Seems to hit pretty close to when things sell.
That DOES stink, but it’s not an uncommon story. The appraiser who came to our home while we were doing a refinance recently told us a huge percentage of the homes he takes a look at it are on upside down loans. Like you say, it only matters what the price of the home is when you go to sell it. As long as you can pay your mortgage (and you’ve refinanced when you could), just sit tight.
@Money Beagle – That’s great!! Looks like you’re in a wonderful area right now :)
@Jamie Jefferson – Yup, that’s the plan… very VERY fortunate we can at least pay the mortgage okay! Things would be a lot different if we couldn’t :(
Well at least you can renegotiate your property taxes this year if you haven’t already. That’s what I’m doing for mine when it lost value. It might save you a few hundred bucks.
Yeah! It automatically adjusted for us :) We now save about $150 a month because of it – can’t complain there, right? Especially since we just keep on plowing it all towards the principal!
OUCH! That’s gotta hurt. Personally, I’m routing for houses to decrease in price (before you yell at me, it’s only because they were inflated to begin with) to make living in Los Angeles less rediculous than it currently is. I can’t believe what houses were going for and even though they are a lot lower, they’re still too high. 2 bd, 1 ba 800 sq ft for $380? Right. Stick with it and keep your eye on paying off the mortgage. Eventually, it will work it. Hopefully. :)
Oh I hear ya – LA is sick over there… worse than DC and we have it pretty bad too!
We bought our home in July 2009, (2 months for the cutoff date for the FHA streamline Refi date. SUCKS). At that time it was worth 265k, we bought it for 235k (we put 27k down), So we only needed a loan of 208k at 5.25 Rate.
Fast Forward 3 years. Our Value of the home is now 199k, We have 202k on the loan. So we are underwater. Good times!
Our loan is not through Fannie mae or Freddie Mac, so we are screwed there. We missed the june 2009 cutoff for the FHA refi streamline.
With interest rates in the 3.5% range, we could save some SERIOUS $$$ if we could refi, but we can’t because we’ve lost more than 30% value of our home in 3 years.
So yeah, I feel your pain.
Ouch indeed. At least we both can afford it though, eh? That’s the only saving grace from all this really (besides the fact it changed the future of my entire career since I started blogging cuz of our house purchase). Had we gotten ourselves into crazy variable rates that reset every couple of years it could have been a $hit ton worse :(