It’s a popular question during presidential election season: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
If you asked this same question of the country’s homeowners, what response would you get? According to a recent study by online foreclosure company RealtyTrac, you’d receive a resounding “no.”
RealtyTrac recently released its Election 2012 Housing Health Check. And according to the report, 65 percent of local housing markets across the nation are worse off today than they were four years ago.
To determine this, RealtyTrac officials analyzed five key metrics regarding housing in more than 900 counties across the nation. These metrics were average home prices, unemployment, foreclosure inventory, foreclosure starts and share of distressed sales. In the 919 counties that had data for all five metrics, 580 — or 65 percent — had at least three of these key metrics in decline compared to four years ago.
In 315 of the counties that RealtyTrac studied — or 35 percent — three of these metrics were stronger than they were four years ago.
“The U.S. housing market has shown strong signs of life in recent months, but many local markets continue to struggle with high levels of negative equity as the result of home prices that are well off their peaks. In addition, persistently high unemployment rates are hobbling a robust real estate recovery in most areas,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a written statement.
“While the worst of the foreclosure problem is in the rear view mirror for a narrow majority of counties, others are still working through rising levels of foreclosure activity, inventory and distressed sales as they continue to clear the wreckage left behind by a bursting housing bubble.”
The biggest negative showings of the RealtyTrac survey? Housing prices are down from four years ago in the majority of counties across the nation. At the same time, unemployment rates are up in more than 90 percent of the counties.
If Obama loses this November, then, I’d say to remember this survey. Unemployment and the continuing troubles of the housing industry might be what kill off the Obama presidency.
— Dan Rafter