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Areas Facing COVID-Related Foreclosure Risk

The housing market, for various reasons including government efforts to mitigate loss, largely escaped the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but some parts of the country continue to face more risk than others, and those threats to homeownership are no thing of the past.

The property data analysts at ATTOM released a Q2 2021 Coronavirus Report spotlighting county-level housing markets that are more vulnerable to the impact of the ongoing pandemic.

Markets on the list were considered at greater or lesser risk based on the percentage of homes facing possible foreclosure, the portion with underwater mortgages, and the percentage of average local wages required to pay for major homeownership expenses.

"The Coronavirus pandemic is easing, and the U.S. economy is gradually coming back to life, which suggests that the nation's housing market will indeed escape any major damage from the crisis. No major signs are showing anything different at this point. Nevertheless, the pandemic is still out there and remains a potent threat to home sales and values, as well as to the broader economy," said Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer with ATTOM. "Amid a generally upbeat outlook, we continue to see areas that appear more at risk for a fall, especially in specific areas of the East Coast and Midwest. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will keep a close eye on those areas in case the situation worsens and the pandemic surges again."

Similar to ATTOM's Q1 study, the most recent data showed states along the East Coast, Connecticut through Florida, as well as Illinois, being  more vulnerable to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. The latest numbers also reveal clusters of at-risk areas in New Jersey, Delaware, the Chicago area, and central Florida. 

"The 50 most at-risk counties around the U.S. were spread over a wider area than in the first quarter of 2021," ATTOM reported, "as most states had no more than two counties in the top group in the most recent time period."

The West remained far less exposed, the researchers added. The only three western counties in the top 50 during the second quarter of this year were in northern California and southern Arizona.

The study's findings, which can be accessed in full at ATTOM.com, according to the authors, "follow a year when the national housing market continued its decade-long boom even amid the pandemic, with median single-family home prices rising more than 10% across much of the country."

They added, "While small indicators of a possible slowdown have emerged in 2021 in the form of declining home affordability and slumping investor activity, fuel for further price gains has come from the pandemic receding, employment growing and the broader economy improving.

But the pandemic remains a threat to the economy as new virus variants emerge, and additional clusters of new cases crop up in various parts of the country."

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.
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