Housing Market

The health of this housing market: Comparing 2024 data to 2011

The number of underwater homes and new listings tell the story

Today’s housing market suffers from affordability issues due to mortgage rates in the 7s and high home prices. People are quick to panic over any part of the housing market that looks stressed, fearing we’ll see 2008 levels of destruction all over again. But while home sales are trending at the lowest levels ever when adjusting to the workforce, we have some very positive housing data lines in 2024 compared to the stressed housing markets of past years.

Let’s look specifically at the current market data compared to 2011. Why choose 2011? That was the first year we were truly out of the Great Recession and the last year home prices fell in the U.S. There are some critical differences between the housing market today and what we saw then, which provide good insight into the health of this market.

Underwater homes

One of the most significant changes in the housing market since the housing crash has been the drastic reduction in underwater homes. The housing bubble crash years of 2008-2011 saw a surge in foreclosures due to the lack of selling equity and this also profoundly impacted housing demand. Today that situation has improved significantly. Consider: In the fourth quarter of 2010, 23.1% of homes were underwater. In 2024, that number has plummeted to 1.8%, the lowest level ever. Chart below represents Q1 2024 data.

So not only do we have a very limited number of homes underwater, but homeowners also have a lot of selling equity. The reason this is so important is that when we get another job loss recession, many households in America will have a cushion to sell their homes and not go into foreclosure at all. The second positive factor is that homeowners who haven’t lost their jobs can sell their homes and use that equity for a down payment for another house or even pay cash for the next purchase.

Days on market

One of the problems with having so many foreclosures and a lack of demand back in 2011 is that it took over 100 days to close a transaction — this is a sign of an unhealthy housing market. The National Association of Realtors tracks the days on market, and unlike 2011, when it took over three months, the most recent existing home sales report shows only 24 days on market this year.

In 2011, we had over 3 million active listings to start the year and today the NAR total active listings data is running at 1,128,000. Traditionally, I’d like to see the days on the market be between 30-45 days year-round. But since we have such low active listings today, even with 2024 being another year of low home sales, the days on the market are still under 30 days, which means homes that are priced right are selling quickly.

New listings

The most significant and glaring difference between 2011 and 2024 is the weekly new listings data for the peak season. It’s probably the second most enormous gap ever; only 2023 would be lower than this year.

Last week in 2011, 396,955 homes hit the market without a contract. For the same week this year, the number was 70,606 new listings. 2023 had the lowest new listings data and 2024 looks to be the second-lowest new listings data ever.

The background to this difference in new listings is important. We had a massive credit bust starting in 2005, which continued from 2006 to 2008 — all before the job loss recession began in 2008. As you can see in the chart below, credit broke years before the Great Recession, which is why we had so many new listings at that time. That is not the case now — I drew these black lines to make my point.

Of course, it wasn’t just 2011 that had a burst of new listings: from 2009-2012, the new listings data was running at 250,000 to 400,000 per week, whereas the last four years, we have been running at 30,000 to 90,000 per week, roughly.

New listings data for last week over the years:

  • 2009:  281,734 
  • 2010:   345,146
  • 2011:   396,955
  • 2012:   318,041

What a difference a cycle makes!

Now, I could write about 16 different variables that make 2024 much different than 2011, but let’s keep it simple. This housing market is challenging in some ways, but we’re not headed for another 2008.


  1. i think it would have been helpful to point out that a lot of the listings in 2011 were still REOs that banks were trying to get off the books. the market also was not natural in that banks were selling in bulk to other entities cutting out he homeowner who was willing to jump in and get a deal. it was a very sad time for homebuyers and small investors. this was not a natural seller market by any means.

  2. This sentence was for that point, the lead up to 2008 credit bust

    “As you can see in the chart below, credit broke years before the Great Recession, which is why we had so many new listings at that time. That is not the case now — I drew these black lines to make my point.”

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