According to the Case-Shiller Composite 20 (metro areas) index, the price of an existing home peaked in July 2006. From the July 2006 peak through January 2008, the price of a representative home has fallen 12.5%. To put this in perspective, if someone had purchased an existing home in July 2006 for $1 million with a downpayment of $125 thousand (12.5% of the purchase price), that someone's equity in the house as of January 2008 would be approximately zero. Unless there was a radical reversal in the direction of home price changes in February, that July 2006 home purchaser was upside down - i.e., had negative equity in his or her home. The Case-Shiller home price index represents a bell curve of doom for recent home purchasers and home lenders.
Note: This commentary was inspired by conversations I have had with Michael Nicoletti, one of the foremost authorities of the current housing crisis and its negative implications for the financial system.