I keep reading titles like this in different publications. You really don't have to go back 77 years to find 25% drop in values.
How about a history lesson. In 1986, congress decided to re-write the tax laws relating to real estate tax deductions. In their infinite wisdom they declared that real investing was a "passive" activity. Tell that to people who own income property. Passive investing my behind. What did that mean? It meant that you could only deduct $25,000 in real estate losses. Even if you had a property that broke even from a cash flow stand point you can deduct depreciation, interest, taxes, etc and show a "paper loss" when reporting your taxes. You can still do this but only to the $25,000 maximum.
So back to the late 80's. Dentist's, doctor's, real estate trusts, individuals, etc who bought millions of dollars of real estate looking for appreciation and tax deductions were now saddled with non performing "investment property". It started with condominiums. The investors bought new condos because of minimum maintenance and ease of renting. Well they started handing the keys back to the banks. All of a sudden the market is flooded with "cheap" condos. In my location they lost values from 25% to 40% depending upon location and age. Investors gobbled them up because now they would produce a true cash flow and be able to pay taxes.
This was wonderful. Not!!! The tenant population did not grow fast enough to absorb the new rental units. So, if you had a choice to rent a 100 year old three decker on the third floor or rent a brand new condo for the same money. Hmmm, real tough choice. They jumped at the condos. See where I am going with this. All of sudden the vacancy rate for multis sky rocketed. Remember the investors who owned the multi family properties are also subject to the $25,000 maximum deductions. Keys started going back to the banks. Multi family values dropped on the average of 40% in my location.
The begining of the 90's found property values severely depressed. It was foreclosures that became the comparables. Of course we didn't have Zillow and the rest of these desk top appraisers to trumpet the loss in values.
Every 20 years or so we have a "great depression" when it comes to real estate. Interestingly, the new lows are higher the previous lows. Real estate is not like cars. We can produce as many cars as the consumer will buy. Real estate is finite. We are not making any more land. With construction costs and land development costs continuing to increase. Real estate will always by a great long term "investment".