So, what does this really mean? Well, we are considering refinancing our home in Boston where the new October 2008 index is 159.17. The last time the Boston index was about the same level was February 2004. As it turns out, this was when we purchased our home. In September 2005, the highest index was reached in the Boston Metro area at 182.45. The current level is almost 13% off the highest point reached on the index. But, we might also expect the numbers will continue to decline for some additional time, representing further erosion of home values. How bad the news is depends on where you live and when you bought your home. Some cities like Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas have suffered the largest declines on the index, whereas cities like Charlotte, Dallas, Cleveland and others have only felt modest changes.
For us, who knows? Our Boston home is not worth what it was in 2005, but the drop is not as bad as some cities. Like Jason's refi gone wrong, the discretion of appraisers will dictate whether refinancing makes sense. The problem for homeowners is that they may not be able to take advantage of lower rates. For more on this, Urban Deveopment Secretary Steve Preston recently spoke on the Future of the Housing Market.