A new Nationwide study found low risk for a U.S. housing downturn in 2017, thanks to solid job growth, falling delinquency rates and improving demographics.
But a deeper dive shows that markets east of the Mississippi are better off than those in the west, with conditions set for more sustainable growth in both home sales activity and house price appreciation. Many of the western U.S. markets that are struggling face obstacles such as energy sector slowdowns depressing the local housing market.
Nationwide found that the top 10 metro areas in terms of housing health, are (in order): New Bern, N.C.; Cleveland, Tenn.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Godsboro, N.C.; Baltimore-Columbia, Md.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Valdosta, Ga.; Cumberland, the metro area of Cumberland, Md. and Mineral County, W.V.; Columbia, S.C.; and Augusta-Richmond, Ga.-S.C.
The bottom 10 locations in terms of housing health, in order, are Bismark, N.D.; Victoria, Texas; Casper, Wyo.; Houma-Thibodaux, La.; Lafayette, La.; San Angelo, Texas; Dallas-Plano-Irving; Texas, Anchorage, Alaska; Missoula, Mont.; and Hammond, La. The low rankings came generally from energy sector slowdowns in those regions, Nationwide said.
The expectation, however, is that stabilizing oil prices and employment rebound in that sector could improve the housing metrics in the affected areas, Nationwide said.
Nationwide also noted housing markets that showed the most improvement over the last year. They are, in order: Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y.; New Bern, N.C.; Jacksonville, N.C.; Grand Island, Neb.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Dutchess County, N.Y.; Charltestown, W. Va.; Pittsfield, Mass.; Cleveland, Tenn.; and Elmira, N.Y.
Markets where unsustainable housing price growth lowered affordability, according to Nationwide’s report: Dallas, Denver, Portland and San Francisco.
Nationwide’s Health of Housing Markets report also noted common characteristics among the most sustainable housing markets, including sustainable house price growth, affordability, solid job growth and falling delinquency rates. Factors in the ranking, which looked at the national housing market and 400 metropolitan statistical areas, included employment, demographics, the mortgage market and house prices.