Special Report

Eight Housing Markets at All-Time Highs

8. Weld County, Colo.
> Pct. change from 2007-2008: 11.1%
> Average March price: $197,488
> Change in foreclosures: -45.8%
> Unemployment rate: 6.5%

Weld County’s housing market has, by some measures, largely recovered from the housing crisis. Foreclosures fell by nearly 46% from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of this year alone. Home prices are also up considerably. An area home cost an average of $197,488 in March, nearly 19% higher than the area’s average home prices in 2008, around the time the housing crisis was well-underway. According to RealyTrac’s Daren Blomquist, the foreclosure crisis hit Colorado fairly early on, which partly explains its lead in the recovery. On the other hand, however, such dramatic increases in home prices may be signs that growth is unsustainable.

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7. San Francisco County, Calif.
> Pct. change from 2007-2008: 15.3%
> Average March price: $945,000
> Change in foreclosures: -75.0%
> Unemployment rate: 5.2%

Average home prices in the San Francisco area have been among the most expensive in the country every year since at least 2007, when an area home cost nearly $820,000, on average. As of March, area homes cost $945,000 on average, more than in any other county in the nation. While residents are quite wealthy — household median income is projected to be $78,641 in 2014 — home prices far exceeded local incomes. A typical home cost nearly 12 times the typical income, the second-highest home price to income ratio in the nation. Despite this high ratio, foreclosure rates fell 75% between the first quarters of 2013 and this year. As Blomquist explained, confidence among outside investors likely explains the bulk of San Francisco’s housing price recovery.

6. Johnson County, Iowa
> Pct. change from 2007-2008: 25.5%
> Average March price: $192,000
> Change in foreclosures: 5.4%
> Unemployment rate: 3.2%

Average home prices have risen in Johnson County, Iowa have risen more than 25% since 2007. As of March, a home sold for an average of $192,000, an all-time high. A low unemployment rate in Johnson County and relatively stable statewide economic conditions have likely contributed to the area’s rising home prices. An estimated 3.2% of the county’s workforce was unemployed in March, among the lowest unemployment rates nationwide. There are also indications economic development will continue in the state, further strengthening the county’s housing market. Several companies are flourishing in Iowa. Just last month, Google reached an agreement with MidAmerican Energy — Iowa’s largest energy company — to supply one of its data centers with renewable energy.

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5. Henderson County, Texas
> Pct. change from 2007-2008: 30.2%
> Average March price: $192,500
> Change in foreclosures: N/A
> Unemployment rate: 5.7%

Home prices in Henderson County averaged nearly $148,000 in 2008. But in the subsequent years, prices for property in Henderson County dropped considerably. As recently as 2011, the average home price in Henderson County, Texas was just $96,592. However, since then the market has roared back, rising to an average price of $192,500 in March, 30% higher than the 2008 average price. Prices in the area might be expected to fluctuate to some degree, given Henderson County’s size. While the majority of strong housing markets were quite large, Henderson County is exceptionally small, with a population of just 78,558.

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