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Continued Growth Brings U.S. Home Values Up $1.7T in 2014

Two-Story-HouseHomes across the country gained an additional $1.7 trillion in value in 2014, leveling off slightly from last year's increase as appreciation lost momentum in most markets.

Looking at the past year of growth, Zillow estimates U.S. homes will be worth a combined $27.5 trillion by the end of 2014, a 6.7 percent increase over 2013. Last year, the company valued the country's housing stock at roughly $25.7 trillion, an improvement of 7.9 percent from the year prior.

"Looking at the total value of the U.S. housing stock proves just how huge and important the housing sector is to the overall economy," said Dr. Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. "Virtually nowhere else will you see gains of more than a trillion dollars in one year represent only single-digit percentages of the total market."

Homes lost about $1.6 trillion in value from the end of 2006 through the end of 2011, Zillow estimates.

With home values posting continual increases in the last few years, another recent report from the company shows more than seven million U.S. homeowners have recovered to a positive equity position, leaving the national negative equity number at about 8.7 million.

Less encouraging is the fact that more than one-third of homeowners nationwide are either underwater or close to it, leaving them unable to afford the cost of trading up to a new home.

For November, Zillow's index of home values came to $177,600 nationally, a slight bump from October and a 6.0 percent improvement over last year. Home value growth has slowed down throughout 2014 as a response to recovering inventory levels (up 11.8 percent year-over-year in November) and less buyer demand.

Compared to last year, home values were higher in November in almost every major U.S. metro, with some of the hardest-hit markets still posting double-digit growth: Miami (13.6 percent), Atlanta (12.8 percent), Houston (11.9 percent), Orlando (11.9 percent), and Las Vegas (11.5 percent).

By this time next year, the company predicts home value growth will have slowed to an annual pace of 2.4 percent.

At the same time, Humphries predicts the housing market will become more of a driving force in the country's economic recovery, having played a less important part this year.

"As we conclude 2014 and look ahead at 2015 and beyond, housing will play a bigger role in the broader economic recovery. As the job market improves and more households form, more people will search for homes to buy and rent, which will translate into more people buying appliances and home goods and lead to more jobs for home builders and contractors," Humphries said. "Housing is well positioned to continue the great strides already made this year."

About Author: Tory Barringer

Tory Barringer began his journalism career in early 2011, working as a writer for the University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper before joining the DS News team in 2012. In addition to contributing to DSNews.com, he is also the online editor for DS News' sister publication, MReport, which focuses on mortgage banking news.

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