There Are 19 Million Vacant Homes In The US

19 million homes are currently vacant and for sale, either through foreclosure or bank seizure or just because no one feels like living there — and 19 million is a record.

From Bloomberg:

The share of empty homes that are for sale rose to 2.9 percent, the most in data that goes back to 1956. The homeownership rate fell to 67.5 percent, matching the rate in the first quarter of 2001.

The worst U.S. housing slump since the Great Depression is deepening as foreclosures drain value from neighboring homes and make it more likely owners will walk away from properties worth less than their mortgages.

Vacant homes are bad news for neighborhoods — boarded up windows and a glut of available properties on the market bring down home values fast. Unfortunately, there’s just no quick solution to the problem.

Record 19 Million U.S. Homes Stood Vacant in 2008 [Bloomberg]
(Photo:The Joy Of The Mundane)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well gee, if banks had not given $750,000 mortgages to people with no proof of income, and home flippers weren’t so greedy ripping out brand new kitchens to put in a slightly newer $50,000 one in hopes of cashing in on a $100,000 quick profit, and idiots realized that with $25,000 income they can’t afford to live in an expensive house… we wouldn’t be in this dilemma. Also, it’s called a market correction – These houses are WAY overvalued.

    • bwcbwc says:

      @AubreyVitulus: Yeah, unfortunately, the credit freeze that resulted is taking the rest of us down with it.

      • Leksi Wit says:

        @bwcbwc: I agree. I am a responsible person who has a high credit score, and my only debt is a small mortgage. I pay my CC bills in full, and still drive my fully paid off car, rather than buy a new shiny one. I save enough to live on for 6 months + and I do not impulse buy. Yet, I am going though a difficult refinance, that should not be anywhere near as painful as it is. My house value even in this crappy market is still much more than my mortgage (mortgage = 65% of home value).

        The banks are reluctant to give loans to people like ME now! I live in nice neighborhood and good town, too.

        I tried lending tree and got ONE response. I ended up going with my regular bank for the loan but it has been a nightmare! I finally got a rate of 4.875% (not APR) on a 15 yr fixed with closing costs (not including escrow and insurance) of approximately $1250 (which includes my banking discount), but I had to do a lot of calling around and pulling of teeth. It’s been very unpleasant to say the least. I have an appraiser coming this week and I still don’t feel comfortable that those terms will be honored. =(

  2. bastion72 says:

    Vacant.

  3. pb5000 says:

    Maybe these are all the households not ready for the DTV switch?

    (sorry, low but there’s just not much to say about this other than wow)

  4. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    I’m sure the number of vacant homes will lead someone in the government to surmise that we need more money to fight crack addiction.

    Vacant homes are the gateway situation.

    • Rhayader says:

      @Ash78: Yeah, we should outlaw vacant homes — did you know that 57% of all drug users went inside a vacant home at one point in their life?

      This is obviously unacceptable and needs to be shut down immediately.

      • Fresh-Fest-1986 says:

        @Rhayader: I read that minorities are now grinding up foreclosed homes and shooting them into their genitals.

        Watch out next time you see someone with a cheese grater and a wandering look in their eye.

        • Rhayader says:

          @Fresh-Fest-1986: Haha.

          “Hey man, you got any sheetrock?”

          At least it cuts out the middle man. Now instead of tearing down a house and selling the scrap for scag money, they can just tear down the house and bake that shit up right there.

      • m4ximusprim3 says:

        @Rhayader: Did you know that 100% of them have seen a house at some point? Vacant houses are just a symptom- the root problem is the houses themselves. We should just tear them all down- then the druggies won’t have a place to shoot up.

        Problem solved. Next!

        • howie_in_az says:

          @m4ximusprim3: You obviously failed to realize that druggies are humans. Clearly the solution is to outlaw humans, not outlaw homes.

          • PølάrβǽЯ says:

            @howie_in_az: I’m with you on that one. Humans have to go!

            I’ll be the first to help eradicate the pests – *click-click, BOOM!… thump*

            Oh crap, will somebody click “submit” for me?

  5. karlrove says:

    Wouldn’t you say there’s also a record number of people living in this country? The percentage means far more.

  6. KyleOrton says:

    It’s because they don’t have granite countertops or stainless steel appliances. If someone would just add those it would be like a 600% return on investment.

    • Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

      @KyleOrton: According to just about every show on HGTV, your comment was not a joke.

      • KyleOrton says:

        @Ash78: No kidding. Consumer Reports had an article on the average cost and return over time for different improvements. I don’t believe any were close to 100%. Yet somehow that “What’s My House Worth?” show says any improvement will return 100-300%.

    • catnapped says:

      @KyleOrton: Where’s HGTV when you need them?!?

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        @catnapped: One of my relatives has a bungalow in a presentable but unfashionable neighborhood in North Hollywood, and is pressuring his heirs to decide what to do with the thing when he dies. My brother immediately yelled, “FLIP THAT HOUSE!” I didn’t get it for a minute…

        It would be terrific if Consumerist could do an article on how to cost-effectively and attractively fix up a “well-loved” house that needs a lot of attention to make it saleable.

      • econobiker says:

        @catnapped: They or one of their competitors are now doing a “fix that space to rent it out” show which I guess means that people are trying to get rental property out of their homes in order to help pay for their mortgages…

    • shepd says:

      @KyleOrton:

      Don’t forget the travertine tile kitchens, subway tile bathrooms, and laminate wood floors. Throw some paint and new handles on those cabinets because the 1950’s -> 2000’s look is HOT. And paint at least one wall in the living room a different colour. Throw some fresh sod on the front and back lawns, too! Don’t forget those ugly-ass fishbowl-style sinks, too.

      And you absolutely must go for the never-lived-in look with all rental furniture.

      Gah! I’ve watched too many failures-in-progress on TV!

      • KyleOrton says:

        @shepd: I’ve been looking at houses lately and would like to take this opportunity to offer advice to any renovating homeowners.

        Yes, you can install laminate floors yourself. If you don’t take the molding off first and actually extend the floor to the walls, it will bring down the value of your house and I will see it as something else I have to fix.

        I’ve seen 3 houses like this in the last 2 weeks.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @shepd: My husband and I had the LONGEST go-round over tiling the basement (travertine came up). He’s from non-basement-having Florida, and I had to keep explaining to him that “finished basement” in the midwest does not mean “looks like living room.” It means “place for 13-year-old boys to play video games and keep their Dorito farts confined to a single location.”

        • shepd says:

          @Eyebrows McGee:

          Hells yes. Right on. A basement gets drywall, foam underpadding (sometimes), office carpet, and fluorescent tube lights. Anything else is a waste of money, unless you’re actually thinking of building a REAL home theatre (you know, with black curtains all around). :)

          • KyleOrton says:

            @shepd: But if you paint an accent wall and put a whirlpool in the bathroom, you can ask the same price per square foot as finished and trimmed above-grade space!

        • GearheadGeek says:

          @Eyebrows McGee: It would seem to me (coming from non-basement-having Texas) that economical tile would be a good choice for a basement, if the concrete floor didn’t lend itself to a nice stain. Am I missing something? Certainly travartino would be overkill, but it seems like shepd’s carpet suggestion is a no-go. Wouldn’t the basement be the most likely place to collect water in the event of a leak.

          • Keavy_Rain says:

            @GearheadGeek: If I were finishing a basement, I’d go with stained concrete instead of carpet, too.

            Its a lot easier to clean up a spill with a shop vac than a steam cleaner.

    • Confuzius says:

      @KyleOrton:
      I’ve always had a feeling that the popularity of these flip shows are what helped to screw the economy in the first case.

  7. NotChoinski says:

    Not to mention a glut of “E’s” and a paucity of “A’s” in world vowel market

  8. snidelywhiplash says:

    Scary thing is, about 18.5 million of them are in Detroit.

    • Irish Lion says:

      @snidelywhiplash:

      And you got that figure from where?

      • Yossarian says:

        @Irish Lion: He’s making it up. Everyone knows the vacant houses in Detroit have been burned down.

      • edebaby says:

        @Irish Lion:

        surely a joke, wouldn’t ya think, Irish Lion?

        Certainly not disputable that there is a glut of homes for sale in Detroit. I just saw a 4 bedroom, 3 bath, brick home for sale for only $10K. Move in condition. If you dare…

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          @edebaby: I would so dare, if it wasn’t in Detroit. I guess that’s the point. You don’t see deals like that on every street here in Houston. I bet you do see some, though, so maybe it’s house-hunting time.

          The folks who make living without a mortgage a spectator sport frequently purchase homes for near-nothing (like a hundred dollars, seriously) from exasperated people disgusted with their useless chattels, and move them to a lot they already own. It’s safe (as houses, yuk yuk) and only costs the price of the move and the contractor to pin it down and hook up the utilities. If you’re really good at the game, you pitch yourself to the homeowner as a removal service and get them to pay you for taking the house away.

        • varro says:

          @edebaby: That’s 2500 foregone lattes.

          Seriously, do those “save money on things” articles ever say “Move out of the fashionable neighborhood and into the crappy ones with houses that sell for a tenth of yours”? That’ll save a ton of money, and you’ll have plenty left over to install all the things you’ve seen on HGTV…

    • katieoh says:

      @snidelywhiplash: my dad lives an hour south of detroit and is trying to sell his home. he paid $190k for it 10 years ago and is now trying to get someone to take it for $175k. it’s a full-on disaster area up there.

  9. robocop is bleeding says:

    Meanwhile, I’m pacing back and forth waiting to see if the seller accepts our offer.

    • thnkwhatyouthnk says:

      @robocop_is_bleeding: Throw in a ShamWow, they couldn’t possibly turn it down!

    • KyleOrton says:

      @robocop_is_bleeding: I’m sure you made a rational decision to place the order, but be aware you might be competing against someone who didn’t.

      I made a market-value offer, supported by comps and the state of the housing market in my area at the same time as another buyer. The seller requested best bids, so I tacked on the $5k I would have given during negotiations and resubmitted. I later found out that the other buyer bought for an obscene amount that he/she won’t be able to recoup for 15 years (as S%&^ meet fan is only beginning here).

      I honestly feel bad that I didn’t withdraw my offer rather than helping the Realtors involve scare them into increasing theirs.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @KyleOrton: All I have to say to that is get over feeling bad about it. *YOU* made the right offer, taking the current state of the market into account. It’s not your fault the competing bidders are idiots, you can’t feel sorry for people when you’re not responsible. It’ll drive you to booze and anti-depressants.

        • PølάrβǽЯ says:

          @GearheadGeek: “you can’t feel sorry for people when you’re not responsible. It’ll drive you to booze and anti-depressants. “

          So THAT’S my problem!

  10. snowburnt says:

    the sick thing is that they are still building more and more condo, townhouse and planned community houses in my area. I know they started those projects years ago, but I’m shocked they didn’t see this coming. when they increase the supply so fast they couldn’t possibly have seen a good return even if the housing market stayed ok.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      @snowburnt: The Empire State Building was started before the October 1929 stock market crash, and was completed in 1933. It was nicknamed the Empty State Building until after WW II.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        @HurtsSoGood: So true. There were lots of brand-spanking-new buildings here in Houston that the oil bust in the 80s mothballed. They just finished recommissioning the last of them a few years ago, I think.

  11. bohemian says:

    We have a vacant house in our neighborhood. It has been that was for over a year. The former owner showed up twice last summer to mow after the city made threats at fines yet the house has not been put on the market yet.

    It really sucks to live in a nice neighborhood with a house that is slowly dying.

  12. MisterE says:

    If economics were not a factor, could this means 19 million homes available for homeless people?

    • HRHKingFridayXX says:

      @MisterE: If so, I would totally try to get evicted from my apt so I could be homeless and get a free house. But that’s not how it works, now is it?

      • muffingal says:

        @HRHKingFridayXX: LMAO – So true. Many sellers are still asking too much for too little. In the greater NYC area, people are trying to sell homes that have not one upgrade for the same price as their neighbors who have upgraded their homes to the hilt! That’s freaking criminal! I guess I will remain in my apartment for a bit longer.

    • varro says:

      @MisterE: Seriously, Representative Marci Kaptur of Toledo suggested that people squat in foreclosed homes.

      Would a Greyhound bus to Detroit or Buffalo solve the homeless problem?

  13. walterny says:

    And how many vacant houses are there?

  14. cortana says:

    quick, remodel your bathrooms. It’s the only way!

  15. JGKojak says:

    This shows what a sham home prices are- in a true capitalist system, price would fall to meet demand. The banks are artificially (and have been for years) inflating home prices (complicit: real estate agents, who get higher commissions, and cities/counties, who get more property tax) far beyond what the market will take.

    Assuming half of these homes are decent, non-crack-den caliber, its likely they WOULD sell, if the bank would actually take a reasonable price– but, if you own dozens of these mortgages in a particular city and actually start letting them go, you lower home prices across the board.

    Don’t you get the feeling that SOMEONE should go to jail?

    • muffingal says:

      @JGKojak: Thank you! This is how I have felt for the past year that I have been looking at homes. Many of the homes in my price range (Max $335k) are overpriced for the space, neighborhood and condition. If they were priced more reasonably, I may have brought one already.

      And yes, I understand that people are selling homes that they are losing money on. Maybe we should have received a bailout rather than the greedy banks!

      • JeffM says:

        @muffingal: You? A renter? Haven’t you read the statistics on how your kids are better off and you’re less likely to beat your spouse if you own your home?

      • bwcbwc says:

        @muffingal: Prices in parts of South Florida appear to be leveling off at about 40% to 50% of the bubble peak. Speculators and buyers with cash in hand are moving back in at the $100k to $200k range, down from $250k-400k. The developers are still trying to unload inventory at $250k to $300k though.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @JGKojak: Zillow shows that my home has shot up almost $100,000 in value in the past five months. And, weirdly, there are several home sales in the area that back up these insane new numbers.

      I am convinced someone is doing something illegal, this can’t be good.

    • stacy75 says:

      @JGKojak:
      As a Realtor, I can tell you that the difference in the commissions aren’t a huge motivator. Consider that the commission difference in a $250,000 home and a $300,000 home is only about $700 once you factor in your taxes and broker split.

      I’d rather make my clients HAPPY and make the sale than pressure them over $700.

      • KyleOrton says:

        @stacy75: Realtors didn’t only benefit from slightly higher commission each time, but also from the frenzied buying and selling due to the rising prices. If a person’s house is going up in value 6-10+% each year they will sell and move up with that “equity” much more often. This is exactly what happened and how most Realtors benefited from the bubble.

        On a side note, if you were working during the building bubble, did you ever tell a client that the prices and growth were unsustainable and would invariably come crashing down? At what point did you start advising them that buying didn’t make sense financially?

        • stacy75 says:

          @KyleOrton: Actually, YES, I am VERY clear with all of my buyers that buying a home guarantees nothing. I used to crack jokes about the craziness in other markets with homes doubling in price overnight. I’d comment on how that kind of market is too volatile for my taste. I actually do several things that are apparently unusual for Realtors:

          If they are moving in from out of town and are unfamiliar with my city, I strongly suggest that they (if possible) rent for 6 months first, before buying, so that they can familiarize themselves with the city and find out where they really want to be. I’d rather make a solid sale where the people are truly happy LATER than a quick buck TODAY. My broker thinks I am an idiot for that. I probably am an idiot for that.

          I also suggest that if they are not sure that they’ll keep the house for at least 3 years, not to expect to make a whole lot, if anything. And that advice only goes for the pockets of the city that have (and still have) steady, good appreciation. In some of the ‘burbs and areas that are over-built, I suggest 5 years minimum.

          Either way, I always qualify the above statements with “But I am not promising anything. I can tell you what the average growth trends have been in this neighborhood over the last several years. But it is not a guarantee. I do not have a crystal ball and I can’t predict what can happen in the future. “

          I work in a city that has been fairly well protected in this crisis, homes are still selling and prices have not fallen a whole heck of a lot (they are still going up in many places). But we didn’t have the insane explosion in prices, either. It’s been slow and steady wins the race here. Which is just my style.

    • johnva says:

      @JGKojak: Also, the “appraisal” industry was essentially one giant scam that was completely in bed with the banks. When the bubble was inflating, appraisers were being pressured under severe threat to come in at higher prices so banks could make the loans they wanted to make.

      But yeah, home prices don’t rationally reflect reality for a large number of reasons. It’s not as efficient a market as say, the stock market, so it takes a lot longer to correct the imbalanced prices. What’s really killed the economy is how over-leveraged so many people were. It’s insane to invest in something that is absolutely overpriced using a large amount of debt.

  16. robdew2 says:

    Ooo look, a typo. Quick, post it to consumerist!

  17. econobiker says:

    I have heard that rent prices are now going down as people scamble to keep homes afloat knowing that they cannot sell for what they paid…

  18. Jaynor says:

    I think we should subsidize arsonists… that will bring inventory down.

  19. VA_White says:

    I am so so so very glad we sold our house in Arizona in Feb 2008. I bent over backwards to make the deal work and people told me I was crazy to do so much for our buyer when “the market is poised to swing back up any day now and there will be another buyer if this deal falls through.”

    Yeah, right. The house I sold is now worth 15k less than what I sold it for. We actually made good money on that sale even with all the concessions we made. I feel really bad for the people in our old neighborhood but damn, we timed it just right. I really feel like we dodged a bullet.

    We moved and we’re renting for now since we know we’re not going to be here more than four years. When we get ready to move back to AZ, we’ll be able to buy a bigger house for what we paid there back in 2003.

    • JeffM says:

      @VA_White: Good for you- you did the right thing! I definitely know what you mean when you refer to your over-leveraged neighbors and feeling sorry for their situation. You did a brave thing that many Americans should have done.

      Oh, BTW, now that you don’t own a home I assume you’re homeless right since if someone loses their house they’re “out on the street”? (I heard that happens on the news with regard to foreclosures)

  20. P_Smith says:

    19 million vacant houses. How many of them are over 2500 square feet?

    And what percentage of owned homes, not in foreclosure while still on a mortgage, are under 2500 square feet?

    The market is saturated with oversized and overvalued junk that people can’t afford, and people wonder why they’re not selling or payments are being made on them.

    • ORPat says:

      @P_Smith:

      You got that right! I live in a neighborhood that is mostly homes form the 30’s and 40’s. The majority less than 1500 sq ft Turn over is very low. Average length of ownership on my street is 15+ years. 2 empty houses. 1 was a foreclosure, but a stupid one, People borrowed 100,000 on a house that was paid for. Not to remodel or anything, and never paid dime one. The other the old guy died and his family is still fighting. The first house never made it to the market,friends of ours will take possession on April 1.

      We are one block from the river and the city park system.Our neighborhood park((15 yards from my front door) has a playground, wading pool,tennis court and Frisbee Golf course.

      Oh did I tell you that I live in a “bad” neighborhood.

  21. Ray Cornwall says:

    There are 19 million vacant homes in America.

    There are 3.5 million homeless men, women, and children in America (source [www.pbs.org])

    And yet, if I suggested that we use some of the inventory of houses to provide shelter to the homeless, I’d be branded as a communist pinko lefty numnut.

    Just saying.

    • oneliketadow says:

      @Ray Cornwall: Homelessness is really more of a problem of mental health and substance abuse services and less of a problem of actual houses. If you give a schizophrenic person a free empty house, ho does that solve anything?

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @oneliketadow: There’s a schizophrenic dude (unmedicated) on my block whose parents gave him a free house because he got too dangerous to live with them in theirs.

        Now he terrorizes school children walking home from school. It freaking pisses me off.

      • Rhayader says:

        @oneliketadow: Good point. In modern America, pretty much everyone can find a place to sleep every night if they want to. The homeless are homeless because, through decision or illness (or both), they have broken away from mainstream society in every possible way.

        That is not to say they don’t deserve sympathy, or that nobody should care about their health and well-being. But it’s important to remember that simply allotting them houses will probably not solve much.

        • floraposte says:

          @oneliketadow: Actually, only about 1/3 of the homeless suffer from psychiatric problems. A greater percentage than that is employed. Most cities don’t have enough shelter beds for the number of homeless there, so even that temporary respite, which doesn’t make them not homeless any more, leaves people out; Rhayader’s claim that everyone can find a place to sleep every night if they want to is simply, demonstrably not true. The babbling schizo dude is the most visible face of homelessness, but that’s an example of what’s called the “chronically homeless,” which isn’t actually the majority; the irony is that the other kind isn’t generally visible to people who don’t know the person or family involved.

          Have a look at

          By the way, Portland decided to house its chronically homeless and it’s been controversial, but quite successful. Apparently if you give the homeless housing, they live in it.

          • floraposte says:

            @floraposte: Crap. My link power fails again.

            [www.nationalhomeless.org]

          • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

            @floraposte: “The babbling schizo dude is the most visible face of homelessness, but that’s an example of what’s called the “chronically homeless,” which isn’t actually the majority”

            In my state, the majority demographic among the homeless is single mothers with children. Dad skips town, doesn’t pay child support, gets put in jail, whatever, and mom is left with two kids and a minimum wage job and gets fired when she misses two days because her kids have strep and she has to wait 18 hours in the ER to see a doctor.

          • varro says:

            @floraposte: That’s the problem with Portland’s city fathers (and Big Daddy Chickenhawk Sam) – they concentrate on having the police harass the babbling schizophrenics (killing one of them, in fact) and the menacing-looking teenagers with their dogs.

  22. Matt says:

    Ooh can I have one? I’ll take a little one that needs some fixing up. Pleeeeeese?

  23. JustThatGuy3 says:

    “19 million homes are currently vacant and for sale, either through foreclosure or bank seizure or just because no one feels like living there”

    Not true. Read the article. That 19MM includes homes (about 1/4 of the total) that are available for rent, but not for sale, and includes vacant vacation homes (another 1/4 of the total).

  24. Hoss says:

    There’s a vacant house that looks like that in my town that is a historic home and cannot be structurally changed or moved. So an adjacent business bought it and is keeping it in desrepair, apparently in hopes it will fall down on it’s own. It’s a parking lot in waiting

  25. Rachacha says:

    We have a vacant house in forclosure in our neighborhood. It has been that way for 9 months. Unfortunately, the bank has been rather laxed in taking care of the property and it will now bite them in the @$$. About 2 weeks ago, a pipe for the fire sprinkler system burst because of the cold temperatures. It flooded the onside of the house, ruined the drywall, carpeting and hardwood floors. The fire department had to be called to break in, turn off the water and ensure that the electricity was turned off.

    One week later, representatives came by to “Winterize” the house (aka, turn off the water and drain the pipes). NOTE TO THE BANKS: You should typically winterize a home BEFORE the end of January.

    So the bank had a home with a $250K mortgage that they could have easily sold for $350-450K in the condition before the flood, now they have a home that is flooded with water, ruined drywall, ruined carpets and is beginning to show signs of mold growth. When the house is eventually sold, the new owner will need to gut everything, and probably have the home cleaned by a mold abatement specialist. Value of this 7 year old flood damaged home…about $100K, half the value of the mortgage.

  26. rickinsthelens says:

    The numbers do not seem right. The Census Bureau estimates there are approximately 115 million households in the United States. If there are 19 million homes vacant, that means there is a cacant home for every six households. It would take years and years for an over supply of homes like that to be evened out. I realize there are some areas, like my native Michigan, that have lost population, but not that extent. So what are they classifying as vacant? In rural areas there are houses that were abandoned decades ago that are nor uninhabitable. Are they considered part of this? If so, we may as well count all of the scrapped cars in junk yards as part of the cars in the US. Is it possible they used multiple sources and double counted homes, or just estimated numbers? Even with the down economy, I find the number too high to believe.

  27. dopplerd says:

    This doesn’t make sense. The article refutes this 19 million number further down in the article. To get to 19 million they added these categories:

    2.23 empty homes for sale
    4.1 vacant homes for rent
    4.8 seasonal properties
    7.8 “other” which could mean foreclosure (and the family is likely still in the house) or that the owner is renovating and living elsewhere.

    I don’t mean to say that these numbers are good, but to insinuate that there are 19 million homes completely empty and up for sale is totally misleading.

  28. valthun says:

    and yet the prices are still too high for those that actually want to purchase a home responsibly.

  29. squidbrain says:

    I have a hard time believing a site that says:

    “In 2005, 13.3% of the U.S. population, or 38,231,521 million people, lived in poverty”

    13%, are you kidding me? More than 1 in 10 people. In this country you can live below the poverty line and still have a car and a tv and a stereo.

    • varro says:

      @squidbrain: Other way around. From the Wikipedia entry:

      Understating poverty

      The U.S. poverty threshold in particular has been criticized for understating poverty, by using an outdated “basket of goods” to set the standard. While cost of these goods is adjusted for inflation every year, the basket of goods itself remains the same. It excludes the cost of items that were rare among poor Americans in the 1950s, but which are now common, such as a telephone, a car and a microwave oven. Mollie Orshansky, who devised the original goods basket and methodology to measure poverty, used by the U.S. government, in 1963-65, suggested an updated list in 2000. She found that the point where a person is excluded from the nation’s prevailing consumption patterns, is roughly 170% of the official poverty threshold.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @squidbrain:

      First: Whether you can have those things depends where you live. And if you have the car in a major city and you are under the poverty line, you probably can’t afford insurance.

      Second: There are many places in the United States where if you are working poor, you need the car just to keep treading water.

      Third: You can have a car, a TV, and a stereo, but you can’t have medical treatment. USA! USA! USA!

  30. papahoth says:

    Wait a minute, all the Republicans on here swear we are already at the trough and home sales are picking up again and we don’t need a stimulus and Santa Clause is coming to town.

  31. Jim Topoleski says:

    seriously if someone in NJ in a decent area in Union county where to say to me

    Hey Ill give you this house for 200,000 just pay a 1500 a month mortgage with no money down.

    I would jump at the chance as long as the area was decent, and the house was in decent shape and did not need major work like a new roof or redone plumbing or electrical.

    Problem is with 19 million homes people STILL want 400-500k for them, when they where barely worth 200-300k.

  32. chris_d says:

    Maybe those home are all in *GASP* DEAD ZONES — you know like in those scarry verizon ads) and can’t get a cellular phone signal. Cause how can anyone live for more than 5 minutes without a signal on their cell phone? Someone might be trying to send me an SMS! What will happen if I don’t get it !!??? NOOOOOOOO!

  33. kwsventures says:

    Just wait. From 2009 to 2012, millions of exotic pay option ARM loans will default. You haven’t seen anything, yet. I expect that vacant home number to be at least 50% higher.

  34. TechnoDestructo says:

    This isn’t going to be over until the average home price is back down in the 150,000 dollar range.