Close this search box.
Close this search box.

How Lessons From 2008 Are Helping the Housing Market Withstand Covid

Certain technologies, which weren’t around 12 years ago, have played a huge role in maintaining a healthy residential real estate market while much of the country sheltered-in-place.

Existing home sales were up 26.6 percent annually in October, and that real estate momentum isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Given Covid-19’s disruption to business as usual and the subsequent, larger economic uncertainty, this development is remarkable. And it underscores how misguided this year’s comparisons to the 2008 housing crisis have been for the housing market.

The two historical events are starkly different for homeowners. During 2008, we saw declining home sales, falling equity and a tidal wave of defaults—all up against the backdrop of major job losses and borrowers unable to make payments on time. Therefore, many homeowners had to get out of their mortgages or drastically reduce them by selling their property. Not to mention many borrowers had questionable financial circumstances when they bought too-good-to-be-true mortgage products.

In comparison, homeowners today are a picture of financial health. They have a record amount of equity above the 20 percent threshold lenders required, and about 45 million borrowers have tappable equity, representing more than $6 trillion. In the last decade, homeowners have typically purchased responsibly-designed loan products with fixed rates, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), and good credit required. Most importantly, homeowners learned from the Great Recession and took more time to understand their mortgage terms before agreeing to them.

Going into 2021, there could be housing market concerns afoot if the economy suffers more due to Covid-19. The good news is, we’ve already learned this year that this market is built to not only withstand a once-in-a-century pandemic but also trend upward. It’s come a long way since 2008.

It’s worth noting that certain technologies, which weren’t around 12 years ago, have played a huge role in maintaining a healthy residential real estate market while much of the country sheltered-in-place. Digital apps and websites, geared toward transparency, allow home buyers to search for lenders, compare rate quotes, and apply for mortgages. Further, home sellers can schedule appraisals and home inspections online and close electronically with remote online notarizations in many states

More broadly, America should be heartened by the maturation of its homeowners. As of this writing, 48 percent fewer mortgages are in forbearance compared to May, which was the peak of our economic uncertainty. That statistic indicates U.S. homeowners are doing everything they can to make good now.

Uncle Sam also deserves some credit. Learning from 2008, the government proactively introduced mortgage relief options and protections in March when the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic became apparent. Specifically, the CARES Act prohibits lenders and servicers from beginning a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure against homeowners, or from finalizing a foreclosure judgment or sale. Additionally, if homeowners experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have a right to request and obtain forbearances for up to one years.

Forbearances are a crucial example of the wisdom gained 12 years ago in the mortgage industry. They were not used then; instead of forbearances, we saw fast-tracked foreclosures. This time around, homeowners are benefitting from being more educated on how to avoid foreclosure. However, even with these relief offerings in place, more than 400,000 homeowners have needlessly gone delinquent on their mortgages despite the forbearance options. This data reflects an exigency to provide even better information and education to all homeowners on alternative solutions. After all, as housing goes, so goes the economy.

Thankfully, the lessons learned from the 2008 housing crisis are now showing up favorably. Yet, it’s important that we keep advancing the market to tackle whatever lies ahead.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.