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Most Housing Markets Still Worse off Than in ‘06: Report

MAR 23, 2014 3:12pm ET
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Most housing markets are faring better than they did in the depths of the recession, but the recovery still has a long way to go.

Just 8% of housing markets in 410 U.S. counties are better off than they were in 2006—a year that predates the crisis, according to a new report from RealtyTrac. The report analyzes housing market health in 410 U.S. counties over the past eight years in two-year intervals. Market health is measured according to four metrics: home price appreciation, affordability, percentage of bank-owned real estate sales and unemployment rates.

Still, while a majority of housing markets have yet to return to their pre-crisis standards, the report shows that the worst effects of the crisis have largely passed. A full 96% of housing markets are better off than they were in 2010. Eighty percent of housing markets are also in a better state than they were in 2012, suggesting continuing improvement.

“The housing recovery has taken root in hundreds of counties across the country,  and almost all local housing markets are better off than they were four years ago when foreclosure activity peaked,” RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said in a press release Friday. Roughly 1 million homes went into foreclosure that year and “we saw less than half that number of bank repossessions nationwide in 2013,” Blomquist said.

"Even in hard-hit markets like Stockton, [Calif.], Las Vegas and Lansing, Mich., where real estate owned sales represented more than half of all sales in 2010, the percentage of [real estate owned] sales has been cut at least in half," Blomquist said.

Home prices in three-fourths of the counties included in the report continue to hover below their 2006 levels. But low inventory in cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Denver and Oklahoma City has led to rapidly appreciating home prices in those areas, according to the report.

"Those rapid home price gains are causing a concerning drop in affordability rates in some cities, but homebuilders and homeowners with regained equity should help provide more supply to balance out many of those markets in 2014," Blomquist said.

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