U.S. consumers owed $8.995 trillion on their residential loans at the end of March — the lowest debt figure recorded in almost five years, according to new figures compiled by National Mortgage News and the Quarterly Data Report.

Housing debt (in the form of outstanding home mortgages) peaked at yearend 2009 at $10.1 trillion. But since that the time the nation’s economy has struggled to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression with millions of borrowers losing their jobs and going into arrears.

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