Articles & Special Issues Asset Building Financial Inclusion

Homeownership, the Great Recession, and Wealth: Evidence From the Survey of Consumer Finances

The owned home is central to both the American Dream and the financial lives of U.S. households. This article explores the typical financial trajectories of homeowners during the Great Recession, assessing the viability of positioning home equity at the core of a household’s balance sheet. Using the 2007–2009 reinterview panel of the Survey of Consumer Finances, we describe the diverse balance sheets of groups of homeowning households. While some homeowners lost equity and wealth in the Great Recession, we find that an owned home introduced severe risk of loss, but homeowners were less likely than renters to lose very large proportions of their wealth. The experience of homeowners’ balance sheets during the downturn was diverse, and the typical experiences of different groups are compared and contrasted.

Project: American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD)


Grinstein-Weiss, M., Key, C., & Carrillo, S. (2015). Homeownership, the Great Recession, and wealth: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances. Housing Policy Debate, 25(3), 419–445. doi:10.1080/10511482.2014.971042