Ten Towns That Cannot Turn Around

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Since home prices peaked in the beginning of 2006, the U.S. median home price is down by a third. And though the market has begun to show signs of bottoming out, prices are still down nationally by 1.9% from last year and are expected to fall an additional 1% from the beginning of this year through 2013.

Read: Ten Towns That Cannot Turn Around

Of the 384 largest housing markets measured by real estate data company Fiserv, 69 have seen home prices fall more than the national average. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the markets with the worst home price declines from their prerecession peak. Of those metro areas, we identified the markets where the median price did not improve in any of the periods measured by Fiserv as of the first quarter of 2012. The 10 worst are housing markets that have fallen at least 55% and have yet to recover.

While the drop in home prices in these markets has slowed, the local economies have been devastated. July unemployment rates in the worst housing markets were all above the national rate of 8.1%. Eight of the 10 have rates of at least 10%, and five are above 12%. Merced, Calif., one of the 10 worst-off cities, had an unemployment rate of 17.8% in July, the fourth-highest in the country.

According Fiserv chief economist David Stiff, the unemployment rates and languishing home prices in these markets are indicative of the underlying problems in these states as a whole. “The reason the job markets are so weak in these metro areas is that during the boom more than half of the growth was generated either directly or indirectly by residential real estate, and so now the reverse has happened,” Stiff explained.

Further evidence of the economic troubles heaped on these cities, three of the housing markets — San Bernardino, Vallejo and Stockton — have filed for bankruptcy since the recession began. Stockton’s Chapter 9 filing represents the largest such case in U.S. history.

Continually depressed home prices also have led to unusually high foreclosure rates in these markets. According to foreclosure data from RealtyTrac, a site that tracks housing data, these cities had among the worst foreclosure rates in the country as of the second quarter of 2012. Of the 10 cities, eight are among the 20 with the highest foreclosure rates out of the 212 metro regions with populations of 200,000 or more.

Of the cities with the worst home price declines, some have begun to recover. In the Detroit metro area, which did not make the list, the median home price has declined by 55.8% from the first quarter of 2006. However, between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, the median price went up by 8.6%, one of the largest increases in the country.

Like Detroit, many of the the 10 worst-off markets appear to be about to recover because buyers see bargains. Home prices in seven of the 10 metro areas were lower than the national median of $159,000. Fiserv projects that of the 10 housing markets on our list, five will increase by more than the national rate of 5% between the first quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014. This includes the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach region, which Fiserv projects will have more than 10% growth in median home value in that time. Stiff confirmed this: “investors, who were part of the problem back in the boom years will be trying to jump into these markets at a low.”

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Fiserv to determine the 10 metropolitan areas that had no annual improvement in their housing markets from the first quarter of 2007, the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011, all through the first quarter of 2012. We relied on RealtyTrac for data on foreclosure rates and foreclosure sales (both for second quarter of 2012). We also obtained seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for July from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

These are the 10 towns that cannot turn around.