RealtyTrac released a new analysis of the foreclosure housing market on Thursday, which found that 96 percent of U.S. county real estate markets are better off in 2014 than at the height of the foreclosure crisis four years ago.
The time period when the counties were measured played an important role; only 8 percent of markets were better off than eight years ago. Additionally, 80 percent of markets were better off than 2012, and 30 percent better than 2008.
"The analysis looked at four different key categories of housing market health: home price appreciation, affordability, percentage of bank-owned (REO) sales, and the unemployment rate," the report said.
Each county was then assigned a rank between 1 and 2.5 for each category each year, and the rankings were summed for a total index score. The maximum possible score was 10. The 410 counties analyzed account for 63 percent of the U.S. population.
"The housing recovery has taken root in hundreds of counties across the country and almost all local housing markets are better off than they were four years ago when foreclosure activity peaked in 2010, with more than 1 million homes lost to foreclosure in that year alone,” said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac.
"We saw less than half that number of bank repossessions nationwide in 2013. Even in hard-hit markets like Stockton, Las Vegas, and Lansing, Michigan, where REO sales represented more than half of all sales in 2010, the percentage of REO sales has been cut at least in half," Blomquist said.
Continuing an ongoing trend, affordability continues to be a problem in key areas. Increasing home prices and low inventory continue to keep prices high, and are helping bring certain areas a speedier recovery—in some cases past pre-recession levels.
"Home prices in three-fourths of the counties analyzed are still below 2006 levels, but low inventory has helped home prices accelerate past pre-recession levels in some markets like Seattle, San Francisco, Denver and Oklahoma City," Blomquist noted.
He continued, "Those rapid home price gains are causing a concerning drop in affordability rates in some cities, but homebuilders and homeowners with regained equity should help provide more supply to balance out many of those markets in 2014."
Counties with the largest improvement in index from the height of the foreclosure crisis in 2010 to this year were Alameda County (California), Marion County (Indiana), Sonoma County (California), Napa County (California), and Miami-Dade County (Florida).
Counties that had the least amount of change in their index over the four year span were Monroe County (New York), Arlington County (Virginia), Yuma County (Arizona), Cumberland County (New Jersey), and Cochise County (Arizona).
Each county changed by -.5 percent, which means their index decreased from 2010.