Where is the Housing Drop Hurting Most?

by : Shaun Greer

In the last quarter of 2007, home prices in the United States fell roughly 1.3 percent. Thats a new record fall and not a great sign for those of us involved in the housing industry.

A recent survey by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight shown that there are some local markets that are faring well, despite average housing drops. This stability can be hidden by the national survey figures and ignored when discussions about the dropping real estate market are made.

So who hurts the most in a housing drop? Coastal regions seem to fare worst of all.

In a report done on 291 cities, there were widespread declines around the area. However, some of the worst drops were found in California. Here, homes dropped in price by 6.7 percent compared to their value the year before. Florida was also hit hard with 4.7 percent. Is the bubble bursting for these real estate markets and reducing the real estate value to a more appropriate level, or are coastal regions just more susceptible during housing drops? Can it be a combination of these factors?

Despite these dramatic numbers, the rest of the country is holding on better than here. Homes throughout the rest of the country lost less than 2 percent, while some areas stayed the same. Remarkably, there were even some areas that improved despite national losses. The middle of the country saw more stability since they were never affected by the same rushing price increases seen in Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada.

There were eight states that even saw house prices rise over the year, including:

Utah 9.3 percent
Wyoming 8.3 percent
North Dakota 7.8 percent
Montana 6.9 percent
Texas 6.2 percent
New Mexico 5.4 percent
Washington 5.4 percent
Oklahoma 5.1 percent

Of course, like any other market, there are a number of other economic developments that are still being watched to see how they will impact these housing numbers. Some of these factors include the number of unsold homes that are currently available in many markets. It seems the inventory for unsold houses is at a historic peak and continuing to grow. Interest rates and the overall health of the U.S. economy will directly impact these unsold homes and the comprehensive inventory rates for these homes.

What are some of the things to look out for when analyzing the housing market?

The number of existing unsold homes rose to 10.3 months until they are sold. In a balanced market, it should take five to six months to sell these homes, indicating that we are currently seeing a swollen number of unsold homes.

Default notices, auction sales and bank repossessions are continuing to grow.

Each year, a survey is done with construction professionals to gain their views on the existing market conditions. A number over 50 will show positive optimism for the year ahead. October and November of 2007 saw a historic low of 18.

5.59 percent of mortgages had late payments as of third quarter 2007. Its the highest delinquency rate since the report has been tracked in 22 years and an overall increase of .92 percent.