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DS News Webcast: Monday 3/10/2014

Nationwide, the economy and housing market are functioning at a level about 87% of their pre-crisis normal levels, according to the National Association of Home Builder's Leading Markets Index. 59 of the 350 metro markets are at or above their pre-crisis norms, up from 58 metros last month. 130 markets are at levels of least 90% of their pre-crisis levels, according to the NAHB. A little less than half—about 45%—of the normalized markets are located in areas benefitting from strong employment in the energy sector.

David Crowe, chief economist at the NAHB, suggests that the strong energy sector in Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming is at the forefront of the recovery. 8 of the top 10 markets in NAHB's index are located in these four states, and unemployment statistics support the NAHB's findings. Texas' unemployment rate is 6 percent; Wyoming's is 4.4%; and North Dakota's unemployment is a paltry 2.7%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A study of two states released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland suggests that fast-tracking foreclosures on vacant properties could provide states with substantial savings. Fast-tracking the properties would prevent damage to vacant homes, which is costly to repair and brings down surrounding properties home values. The study reports that Ohio could have saved between $24 and $129 million in 2012, while Pennsylvania could have saved an estimated $24 to $54 million by fast-tracking properties through the judicial system.

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