Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Foreclosures--How Bad?--How Widespread?

The nightly news seems to have a story every night on the problem that the USA is currently facing with a dramatic increase in foreclosures. It is obviously a very serious problem, especially if you are being impacted by the ripple from foreclosed homes. Banc Investment Daily reported last week that for every foreclosure within a 1/8th mile radius will cause a 1% drop in the price of surrounding homes.

RealtyTrac reports each month on the level of foreclosures in the USA, breaking them down both by county and MSA. Their headline last week was, “Foreclosure Activity Decreases 3 Percent in June.” The activity last month was 252,363 properties, which while down from May was up 53% from June, 2007.

The map of the activity in June is shown at the bottom of this blog. Take a close look at it. Red is bad. It means that up to 1 in 250 houses in a county were foreclosed on in June. Pink shows that more than one in 250 houses but less than 1,500. The two shades of blue are more than that and grey means there were NO foreclosures in June.

The worst places to be in this downturn in housing are in CA, NV, AZ and FL. They are also where housing prices escalated 300 to 500% between 2000 and 2006. They were the focal point of the housing bubble.

Back to the map…my rural county is grey, meaning that there were NO foreclosures. However, let’s assume that it was light blue. In my hometown of Effingham there are 12,384 people who live in 5,330 housing units. IF we were blue it would mean that we would have 1 to 3 houses that were being foreclosed upon. It would definitely be hard upon those couple of families but obviously not the catastrophe that the national media would have us all believe.

Take a look at the map again. Focus on places like ND, SD where there were 11 and 29 foreclosures respectively in June.

This housing downturn will pass if we let the markets work. Foreclosed homes in the areas that are affected are being sold to new homeowners at bargain basement prices. It is how the markets work best.

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