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By contrast, in states where the foreclosure process is stretched out because of the need to obtain final court approval (known as “judicial states”), with many cases taking more than 24 months, the lingering overhang of distressed inventory is preventing home prices from solidly moving higher. If prices do rise, buyers are still left wondering if the gain is only a dead cat bounce since a plentiful supply of bad properties will come on to the market sooner or later. Therefore, home price gains have been much more modest in Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, the states that require judicial process. New York, for example, is still experiencing a rise in serious delinquent mortgages with 9.7 percent in that category. New Jersey is at 13.2 percent and still rising.

Housing starts, the key to helping relieve inventory shortage in non-judicial foreclosure states, vary greatly as well. In areas where new home inventory does not meaningfully come around, home prices will rise faster. For example, in the case of existing home sales when inventories are at five months of supply, prices tend to rise. When inventories are nearer eight months of supply, prices tend to be under pressure. In between – depending on market conditions and the economy – is the point at which prices are stable or rising gradually.

Housing starts in general should vary with the strength of the underlying economy – strong in North Dakota and Texas, weaker in much of New England, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and probably weaker in some of the central and southern parts of the country—Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North Carolina among others. However, regardless of the region or state, all new construction is local—states do not uniformly economically prosper or decline. And the major driver—again—is job availability.

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