Sullivan and Washington are Tennessee’s most vulnerable counties if a tepid economic recovery extends to the housing markets, according to ATTOM DATA Solutions Q4 Special Coronavirus Report.
The local risk rankings were drawn from an analysis of ATTOM’s most recent home affordability, equity, and foreclosure reports. Rankins are based on a combination of those categories in the 499 U.S. counties with sufficient data to analyze. Counties were ranked in each category, from lowest to highest, with the overall conclusion based on a combination of the three ranks.
The findings come as the local and national housing markets continue to withstand the virus pandemic’s effect while also remaining vulnerable to a fall. Home values shot up in 2020 by more than 10% in about three-quarters of the country, even as significant portions of the economy were shut down or idled, spiking unemployment. Locally average home values were up 13%. But amid a halting economic recovery, the ongoing market boom faces questions connected to how long the pandemic will last, whether another recession looms and if a surge of buyers seen last year continues.
Markets are considered more or less at risk based on the percentage of homes facing possible foreclosure, the portion with a mortgage balance higher than the property’s value, and the percentage of average local wages required to pay for major homeownership expenses.
“Areas of the U.S. most at risk from damage connected to the Coronavirus pandemic spread out somewhat in the fourth quarter of 2020. But they still fell mainly along the East Coast, with significant pockets in certain areas, while other parts of the country seem to be less vulnerable,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “This report is not a sign that any area actually took a fall in the fourth quarter. It’s more a gauge of areas that may be more vulnerable if the market falters. In the coming months, much will depend on whether the country can halt the pandemic. We will continue to keep a close watch on home sales and prices to see how everything shakes out in 2021 and if changes hit different regions in different ways.”
Sullivan has the lowest ranking making it the most vulnerable of the 10 state counties in the report. Its 187 ranking is a 36.4% decline from Q3. During the quarter, the percentage of income need to buy increased from 15% to 17.3%. At the same time, the number of seriously underwater properties increased from 4,603 to 4,752.
Washington is not far behind. It had a 182-ranking making it the second most vulnerable in the state. The Q4 ranking was a 33.2% decline from Q3. The percentage of income needed to buy declined from 23% in Q3 to 21.9% in Q4. The number of underwater properties was 5,388, up from 4,713 in the previous quarter.
The two Tri-Cities counties had significant ranking declines from the other state counties in the analysis.
Washington Co.’s ranking declined by 36.4%, and Sullivan was down by 33.2%. The only other county with a double-digit decline was Bradley, down 25.6%.
The two counties with the lowest risk ranking are Davidson and Blount.
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