Sobering, if inaccurate, analysis of home equity

First America Corp’s real estate arm just completed a study of homeowner’s equity, noting that total equity across the US remains high, while some markets are full of stretched buyers and refinancers.

They quote $11 trillion in aggregate home equity – I thought the aggregate market capitalization of all residential real estate was only about $18 trillion. Guess I was wrong. Nevertheless, total face value of mortgage-backed securities in the EPN system alone is over $9 trillion, and I have heard that Fannie, Freddie, and the like back quite a bit more than that. Those bonds would have to be sold at pretty hefty premiums for the numbers to work.

So where are these numbers coming from – will someone set me straight on this? I’ll promise to fix my calculator if you do.


I now see the “facts and figures” came from the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds Statement. As of Q3-05, total market cap of residential real estate – $19 trillion (pretty close to my number 18); total home mortgages – $8 trillion? Doesn’t make any sense if MBSs are over nine. Maybe there was no home financing before 1995, but I don’t think so.

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