If you listen to media reports, you might think that there’s an astronomical foreclosure crisis affecting every neighborhood in America. But guess what? A recent study by University of Virginia researchers has revealed that 87% of the dollar losses stemming from foreclosure activity were concentrated in just four states: California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona.
Sure, you could argue that these states (or at least California and Florida) are quite large, and thus account for a disproportionate number of housing units, rendering these numbers meaningless, but consider this… California accounts for just 10% of the nation’s housing units, but it had 34% of the foreclosures in 2008.
You might also argue that expressing this in terms of dollar losses as opposed to actual foreclosures tends to skew things a bit. For example, the median home value in California in 2007 was 8.3x the median income, whereas the median home value nationally was just 3.2x the median income. In other words, prices had farther to fall in California than elsewhere, so perhaps the dollar amounts are inflated.
Looking at the raw numbers, however, reveals that these four states still account for a disproportionate number of actual foreclosures. In fact, there were just over 2.3M properties foreclosed on nationwide during 2008, with nearly half of these (just over 1.1M) happening in these four states alone.
This kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Sure, there are still other locales that are really hurting, and the housing market sucks in general, but the foreclosure crisis doesn’t appear to be nearly as widespread as the media would have us believe.