Foreclosures are on the rise in Oklahoma. According to some, there is correlating data that could point to a contributing factor. The recent spike in earthquake activity in Oklahoma maybe a contributing factor to the uncharacteristic increase in foreclosure activity seen during the same time period, according to a recent report from ATTOM Data Solutions and Greenfield Advisors.
Statewide in Oklahoma, earthquakes increased 375 percent between the four quarters ending in Q1 2014 and the four quarters ending in Q1 2016, when earthquake activity reached a peak of 336 earthquakes during the quarter.
Foreclosure activity, including that of default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions, and bank repossession (REOs), showed an increase of 19 percent over the same time period following an almost four-year downward trend. The analysis shows that statewide foreclosure activity rose on a year-over-year basis in five of the seven quarters ending in Q1 2016 following 15 consecutive quarters of year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity.
Despite this notable increase in foreclosure activity, home sales volume and prices continued to trend higher during the two-year period ending in Q1 2016. Statewide, home sales grew 12 percent in the same time period, and median home prices in Q1 2016 were 9 percent higher from Q1 2014.
“Home sales and prices have consistently been trending higher in Oklahoma over the past four years, aligning with the national housing market recovery, but foreclosure activity in Oklahoma over the past two years has diverged from the national trend, rising 19 percent during the same two-year period where earthquake activity increased 375 percent,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.
In looking at region specific data, there were 3,712 properties with foreclosure filings in the four quarters ending in Q1 2016 in Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City) which was a 39 percent increase from the 2,672 properties with foreclosure filings in the four quarters ending in Q1 2014.
During this same time, earthquake activity increased 20 percent in Oklahoma County, but median home prices were up 10 percent and home sales volume was up 9 percent. Recently, though, sales volume has shown signs of weakness in this county, which is a decrease on a year-over-year basis in two of the eight quarters ending in Q1 2016.
“Oil prices that plummeted 64 percent during the same two-year period could also be contributing to the rise in foreclosure activity across the state, although it’s important to note that foreclosure activity actually decreased 14 percent during the same time period in Tulsa County, where no earthquake epicenters were reported,” Blomquist continued. “Meanwhile in Oklahoma County, where earthquake activity increased 20 percent over the past two years, foreclosure activity increased 39 percent over the same time period.”
Looking at data from Tulsa, though, despite foreclosure activity increases on a year-over-year basis in three of the four quarters ending in Q1 2016, foreclosure activity in the county has still decreased 14 percent in those four quarters compared to the four quarters ending in Q1 2014. Likewise, during the same time period there were no earthquake epicenters reported in Tulsa County, and median home prices increased 6 percent while home sales volume was up 16 percent.
“While sales volumes and sale prices have been trending higher over the past four years, consistent with the overall housing market recovery, geographic scale is important when evaluating whether the earthquakes are responsible for loss of property value,” said Clifford A. Lipscomb, vice chair and co-managing director at Greenfield Advisors, a Seattle-based economic and real estate research firm. “Repeatedly, in our work, we see that state and county level sales data can mask what’s going on in particular neighborhoods. To tie earthquake activity to loss in property value, it takes a close examination of the affected area and control areas, or areas that are similar to the affected area in several dimensions.”