By Peter Ricci
As Barack Obama campaigns on his accomplishments of the past four years, a new report from RealtyTrac takes its own look at the president's first term. Titled "Election 2012 Housing Health Check," the report analyzes five key metrics of housing health in more than 900 counties in the U.S., comparing the current stats with those of 2008 – and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the scenario is not super positive, though there may be more to the picture than the numbers let on.
Housing Health – Don't Need No Doctor?
The key metrics that RealtyTrac analyzed for its housing health report were average home prices, unemployment, foreclosure inventory, foreclosure starts and share of distressed sales. Here were some of the reports key findings:
- In 65 percent of the sampled counties, or 580 total, at least three out of the five metrics were worse off than four years ago, while in 35 percent of the counties, at least three were better off.
- Home prices are down in a majority of the counties, but unemployment rates are up in more than 90 percent of the counties.
- Regarding foreclosures, a bit more than half of the counties are reporting lower foreclosure inventory and fewer foreclosure starts in 2012.
- Distressed property sales make up 10 percent or more of home sales in the majority of the nation's counties, and in 20 percent of the counties, distressed sales make up a quarter of all sales.
Parameters of a Housing Recovery
Based on that data, the picture for housing health would seem to be pretty grim, if not dire – the patient might as well be in cardiac arrest! However, as we've been reporting in recent weeks, there have been a number of positive developments in the housing market, but it's important to note the parameters for much of those numbers.
For instance, privately-owned housing starts are on pace to rise 25 percent from 2011; homebuilder confidence has hit its highest mark since 2006; foreclosure sales in September only accounted for 14 percent of all existing-home sales, down from 50 percent in February 2011; and The Wall Street Journal, among other outlets, are reporting that home prices bottomed in the last year. So yes, housing is down compared to 2008, but from 2011, there are quite a few positive developments to keep an eye on.