How bad is the housing market? Is it worse than you think? New numbers suggest that the elusive recovery could be coming sooner than you think.

As I've told you in the past, one in three people own their homes free and clear in the United States. That in itself provides some stability for the housing market.

But syndicated columnist Kenneth Harney has some new numbers that might surprise you.

Of those homeowners who have mortgages, half have at least 25% equity even at today's prices. Furthermore, half of those people actually have more than 50% equity.

Meanwhile, what percent of homeowners are upside down in their home loans? A little more than one in five. I don't mean to minimize the consequences of being upside down and what it's like to feel trapped in a house. But I want to draw that real picture for you.

We are poised for a recovery in housing, though maybe not for a year or two more. I do believe it's not being too Pollyanna to say the worst is behind us and improving conditions are not that far off into the future.  

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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