Some interesting statistics on US residential mortgages in the Wall St Journal…
23% of all mortgages in the US are underwater – the owners owe more than the homes are worth. The worst state is Nevada where 68.1% are underwater and the total loan to value ratio for the whole state is 120%.
Over the US as a whole there are 47.8 million mortgages – about one for every six people – with a total property value of $12.7 trillion, or an average value of $266,000 per home (sanity check: US Census data here shows an average home price of $270,900 for 2009 and a median of $216,700). Interestingly, this compares with NZ, where the median house price was NZ$349,000 in July (source: interest.co.nz), or US$247,800.
It’s also worth looking at how these numbers compare relative to incomes in each country. The income measure that seems most readily comparable between the two countries is median household income. The most recent statistics for the US are from 2008, when the median household income was $50,303 (source: US Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008). In NZ the most recent information is from June 2009, when the median household income was NZ$64,168, or US$45,559 (source: Statistics NZ, New Zealand Income Survey: June 2009 Quarter).
So the median home price in the US is 4.31 times the median household income, while in NZ it is 5.44, about 26% higher.