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Market Insider: Regional Variations in Recovery

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By Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of REALTORS®

As we know, all real estate is local. Houses cannot simply be picked up from one location and moved to another spot to take advantage of price arbitrage. In Texas and North Dakota, home prices have already soared above past peaks. One reason is that these states did not really have a big bubble to begin with. More importantly, though, these states are creating jobs—and more jobs. While the country as a whole still has not fully recovered the 8 million job losses that occurred during the Great Recession of 2008-09 (to date, 6 million net new jobs have been created from the trough), North Dakota is setting new peaks with each passing month. North Dakota now has 75,000 more jobs compared to the good economic times before the Great Recession, while Texas has 600,000 more jobs. Here is the easy math: more jobs mean more home sales and stable/rising home prices.

The good news is that nearly all states are now experiencing job growth. Just to provide some flavor, in the past 12 months to June, California added 236,000 net new jobs, Florida 119,000, Georgia 85,000, Illinois 56,000, Massachusetts 53,000, New York 94,000, North Carolina 66,000, and Tennessee 42,000. Even Michigan (though not in Detroit) ramped up hiring by 59,000 people.

There are, however, specific housing-related variations amongst states. In the states that have quickly worked down distressed properties (those homes in serious delinquency or in the foreclosure process), home prices are rising at a good solid pace. Further, knowing that there are few distressed properties in the pipeline, homebuyers and investors have the added confidence of knowing there will not be a flood of bad properties hitting the market – neither sooner nor later. California and Arizona are prime examples. The serious delinquency rate in California had been 12.5 percent at the worst of times, but now has fallen to 4.5 percent. Arizona’s rate went from 12.5 percent to 3.7 percent.

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