Most homes in California and nationwide are still worth less than before the recession

Open house signs in Huntington Beach on May 21, 2016.
(Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

Home values have risen for years amid the economic recovery. And in some corners of California, prices are even setting records, surpassing levels reached during the height of the housing bubble.

But for most of the state — and indeed the nation as a whole — values remain below those peaks, underscoring both the depths of the Great Recession and the unevenness of today’s housing recovery.

That’s the finding of a new report released Wednesday from real estate website Trulia that found only 34.2% of all U.S. homes are worth more now than they were at the peak of last decade’s housing bubble.


In Los Angeles and Orange counties, that figure stands at 37.4% and 23.5%, respectively. And that’s without adjusting for inflation, which would lower the percentages.

“When it comes to the value of individual homes, the U.S. housing market has yet to recover,” Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

The Trulia report analyzed the company’s estimates for the value of individual homes, taking into account the size of a house and sales of similar properties nearby.

The estimates differ from common measures like the median price of actual sales, which in Orange County has reached record levels. The median is the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less in a given time period.

It also differs from the popular Case-Shiller home price index, which is at record highs nationally but is meant to give a picture of the market as a whole rather than individual properties.

The findings of Trulia’s report show most individual homes aren’t valued at the record prices of a decade ago as the housing market has only partially recovered.

For example, the places where the vast majority of homes have recovered their values tend to be in the West and have booming economies, or are located in areas of the South and Midwest where price declines were muted during the recession, the report found.

Over 90% of all homes in the Denver and Wichita, Kan., metro areas, for example, are worth more than they were at the height of the bubble.

Epicenters of the housing bubble and crash are far less well off.

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., less than 3% of homes are worth more than they were last decade.

The same dynamic is true in California, where centers of subprime lending and poorer communities still have not recovered much of their home values.

Trulia estimated only 3.4% of homes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are worth more today than they were at their peak before the recession, which officially ended in June 2009. In Compton, fewer than 1% of homes have recovered to their peak.

By contrast, homes in coastal communities or near job centers have done much better and are valued at record highs.

For example, nearly all the homes in Venice have surpassed their peak value of last decade, helped by a growing tech industry in the area. The same is true in the San Gabriel Valley city of San Marino, which since the downturn has seen an influx of investment from China.

Follow me @khouriandrew on Twitter