5 Cities Where the Housing Bust Won't Let Go
BOSTON ( MainStreet) The long-running housing bust seems to have finally ended in most of the country, but here's a look at five markets where the bad times roll on.
"These markets are great bargains relative to the rest of the country, but that comes with a price: You're probably not going to see home values recover or increase there as much as in other areas," says Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac, which recently ranked the five metro areas dead last in its Housing Market Recovery Index .
RealtyTrac's index scores 100 of America's largest metro areas based on seven measures of market health, from the local jobless rate to how many homeowners are "underwater" (owing more on their mortgages that their properties are worth).
Blomquist says cities at the very bottom of the list mostly sit in the Pennsylvania/Maryland area, which he says appears to suffer from "a combination of lingering foreclosures and an economy that's not rebounding much."
The expert adds that the nation's weakest housing markets are also all in states that have "judicial" foreclosure rules, which require lenders to go through long court processes to seize homes.
States with "non-judicial" rules generally allow quicker property seizures, which reduce consumer protections but help clear up foreclosure backlogs more rapidly.
"I think it's logical that [judicial-foreclosure states] would have markets that are lagging the recovery the most, because they still have more foreclosures lingering around than other places do," Blomquist says.
Check out a rundown below of cities that RealtyTrac found are trailing the U.S. housing rebound by the greatest margin. (Or, click here to see five cities that are leading the recovery.)
A score of 100 equals the national average for all factors analyzed, while home-pricing figures refer to the median sale price for all houses, condos and townhouses in a given market.
All figures are as of June 30 and cover the 100 most-populous U.S. metro areas except for communities in states where public property records don't include sale prices.
No. 5 lagging market: Hagerstown, Md.
Score: 84.7 (100 = U.S. average)
Considered a Washington, D.C., "exurb," this community some 70 miles northwest from the nation's capital makes RealtyTrac's list partly because of its large number of underwater properties.
RealtyTrac estimates that 35% of Hagerstown homeowners whose properties aren't all paid off owe more to their mortgage lenders than the residences are worth. That's well above the 26% U.S. average.
The firm also found that while foreclosure filings in the 269,000-person metro area have fallen 43% from their worst levels, that's less of an improvement than the 65% average drop seen across the country.
Lastly, Hagerstown's median home prices have only rebounded 13% after bottoming out in April 2012. That lags the 19% average recovery for America as a whole.