The housing recovery is widespread, though it is moving at different paces in various geographies, according to the Housing Market Recovery Index RealtyTrac released Monday. Metros in upstate New York, southwest Florida, and the Bay Area of Northern California are ahead of the curve, according to RealtyTrac.
“The U.S. housing market has clearly shifted to recovery mode over the past 18 months, with home prices consistently rising and foreclosures falling closer to pre-housing bubble levels,” said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac with the release of Monday’s report.
He stressed during a webinar Friday that while the recovery is evident across the country, it is moving at different paces in different markets.
RealtyTrac observed 100 large metro areas across the country for evidence of recovery based on seven indicators, including unemployment rate, the rate of underwater homeowners, the change in foreclosure activity from its peak, the change in median home price from its trough, the percentage of distressed sales, the share of sales to institutional investors, and the share of cash sales.
Rochester, New York, topped the index with several positive indicators, including low unemployment, low underwater rates, low distressed sales, rising home prices, and a large drop in foreclosures. So far, home prices in the area have risen 93 percent above their trough and only 7 percent of homeowners are underwater.
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida, ranked second on the list with rising prices driven by high levels of investor activity and cash purchases. Pulling at the threads of Cape Coral-Fort Meyers’ recovery is a high share of underwater homeowners and distressed sales.
Another upstate New York market-Albany—took the No. 3 spot on RealtyTrac’s index, followed by two markets from California’s Bay Area—San Jose and San Francisco.
The Bay area is benefiting from strong employment, falling foreclosures, and rising prices.
At the bottom of the list, Baltimore, Maryland, demonstrated “underperforming numbers for all factors except for underwater percentage and cash purchase percentage,” according to RealtyTrac.
Blomquist pointed out that “[m]edian home prices have bottomed and are now rising in all 100 ranked markets.”
“Likewise, foreclosure activity is past its peak in all 100 ranked markets,” he said.
Baltimore’s market is improving, just not as quickly as other markets. For example, median home price is 9 percent above its trough, but nationally, prices are 19 percent above their bottom.
Foreclosure activity is 26 percent below its peak in Baltimore but 65 percent below its peak nationally.
Other markets at the bottom of the list included, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pennsylvania; Rockford, Illinois; the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania metro; Hagerstown-Martinsburg, Maryland-West Virginia; and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
While a few Florida and California markets ranked high on the list, other markets in these two states sat near the bottom. In California; Fresno, Cisalia-Porterville, and Stockton all ranked in the bottom 20 due to high unemployment, according to RealtyTrac.
In Florida, Pensacola-Ferry Bass-Brent, Tallahassee, Ocala, and Port St. Lucie all ranked in the bottom 20, the result of high levels of underwater homeowners and a heightened presence of institutional investors in the area.
By Krista Franks Brock