Uneven Housing Recovery Prompts Political Analysis

by 26 Oct 2012

(TheNicheReport) -- With the general election just a couple of weeks away, voters have not heard President Obama or former Governor Romney talk too much about the housing crisis and its nascent, yet still painfully slow, recovery. They certainly have not discussed an important aspect of the crisis that was recently highlighted by foreclosure analytics firm RealtyTrac: 65 percent of 919 counties across the United States have continued to descend into economic despair since 2008. 

The report by RealtyTrac looked at property values, foreclosures and unemployment. One grim example cited in the report was Cook County, home to a strong voter base for President Obama's reelection bid. Median property values in Cook County have dropped by 20 percent since 2008. High unemployment and a feverish pace of foreclosures have caused blight to set upon some neighborhoods near Chicago. 

Other communities devastated by the economic loss brought on by the bursting of the housing bubble include Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Tucson. Interestingly enough, the Phoenix metropolitan area to the northwest of Tucson is enjoying a housing recovery stimulated by real estate investors and high demand for rental properties. Another example of a community on the housing mend is Fairfax County in Virginia. As part of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Fairfax County has experienced a recovery in home prices and lower foreclosure rates. 

For the nearly 600 unfortunate counties on the RealtyTrac list that are worse off than they were in 2008, the average loss of property value has been $69,000. Considering that the average home value appreciation over the last four months has been less than $50,000, the downtrodden counties on the list still have a long way to go before they recover. 

The Voting Picture in 2008 and Now

Less than 30 percent of homeowners in the counties that voted predominantly for Republican candidate John McCain in 2008 have seen home value appreciation, but in those counties where President Obama won the majority of votes the situation is not any better. Only 26 percent of those homeowners who helped President Obama to the White House have seen their home prices increase.

The overall economic picture for housing is not as gloomy as it was in 2008, but it has improved. To guess how this will play out on November 6, 2012 would be uncertain since neither candidate has addressed the issue to an extent that would sway votes one way or the other.