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Housing Market Weathering Ongoing Headwinds

Unboxing House BHThe national U.S. housing market is sustainable, despite slower-than-expected household formations and the slowdown in energy sector jobs, according to the latest Health of Housing Markets report [1] from Nationwide Insurance [2].

Much of the reason for the optimism lies in the fact that delinquency rates are down nearly across the board and are zeroing in on pre-bust levels, Nationwide reported.  Though the report did not cite specific numbers, graphics indicate heartily decreasing delinquency rates in almost all markets eat of the Mississippi, with notable declines in the Northeast and Florida.

Steady declines in delinquency in the western half of the U.S. were also generally good, though delinquency rates were on the rise in that far southwestern ends of Arizona and California.

Regionally, however, the housing markets in the vast majority of metropolitan statistical areas were deemed sustainable, suggesting that most local housing markets are unlikely to see declines in the near term.  Job and mortgage market conditions steadily improved as well, helping to boost housing sustainability in much of the country, the report stated.

"We are seeing positive signals for homeowners, as well as local economies, in most metro areas."

David Berson, SVP and Chief Economist, Nationwide

However, there are some job concerns. Energy sector slowdowns are weighing on job growth and housing sustainability for a number of metros in energy-intensive areas, especially in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Texas. Nationwide’s assessment matches very closely to stats released by Arch Mortgage Insurance [3] Tuesday that housing markets in these areas are at higher risk for seeing price declines over the next two years.

Overall, though, the health of the U.S. market remained steady at just north of 100 on Nationwide’s index. The current value of 104.3 is the lowest level in two years, but an index value over 100 suggests “that the national housing market is healthy, with lower chances of a housing downturn over the next year as the index moves increasingly above the 100 break-even value,” the report stated.

"We are seeing positive signals for homeowners, as well as local economies, in most metro areas," said David Berson, Nationwide's senior vice president and chief economist. "The drop in serious mortgage delinquency rates supports sustainable home price gains and housing activity. The more sustainable housing markets should allow for positive feedback loops in local economies, with strengthening job and income gains for residential real estate agents, mortgage bankers and home improvement workers."