I recommend a Marketwatch story, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-great-26-billion-real-estate-swindle-2011-11-08 , which follows up on the home purchase tax credit “Stimulus” programs of the Obama Administration.
We are reminded about the $8,000 tax credits that were mailed out to home buyers in 2009 and 2010. Using recent zillow.com data, we see most of these home buyers are worse off, even with the credit, because of the continued slide in home values. That is sobering: the government spent $26 billion on home buyer subsidies and the average qualifying buyer made a losing bet even with the government money. The average home dropped by more than $14,500 since the time of the tax credit, which more than offsets the $8,000 tax credit. Needless to say, the taxpayer is worse off, too.
The graph below demonstrates this. The tax credits helped cause a temporary halt of the decline in 2009 as home prices briefly increased. Then home values went back to their decline after the credit ended in June 2010. The real estate market had not yet cleared. All that government money only delayed the inevitable, actually extending the housing recession by pushing back the time when housing would hit its trough.
Graph from Wikipedia Commons, retrieved 11/12/11, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Median_and_Average_Sales_Prices_of_New_Homes_Sold_in_the_US_1963-2010_Monthly.png
Picture from Wikipedia Commons.