The Northeast region is the most vulnerable to housing market shocks triggered by the coronavirus, as the U.S. economy heads into recession and millions of Americans are thrown out of work. A new report by ATTOM Data Solutions finds that the country’s top 50 most at-risk housing markets include dozens of counties in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Florida, but only one each in the Southwest and the West Coast.
The report comes after 10 million jobless claims were filed in the last two weeks of March and Bloomberg Economics now forecasts a 100 percent chance of a downturn within 12 months, indicating that America’s longest economic expansion has drawn to a close. The turmoil is already causing pain in the apartment rental market, where new industry data shows that nearly one-third of U.S. renters did not pay their April rent during the first week of the month.
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Property data provider ATTOM calculates the potential impact of the coronavirus crisis on homebuying in 483 counties across the nation based on three factors: each county’s percentage of housing units receiving a foreclosure notice in the fourth quarter of 2019; the proportion of homes underwater (those with a loan-to-value ratio of 100 percent or more) in Q4; and the percentage of local wages needed to pay for major home ownership expenses.
The analysis places 14 of New Jersey’s 21 counties among the top 50 most vulnerable housing markets in the U.S., including five in the New York City suburbs: Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Middlesex and Union counties. New York State contains another four counties among the 50, including Rockland County near the Big Apple, as well as Orange, Rensselaer and Ulster counties.
Trouble in the South
Florida’s 10 most vulnerable counties are concentrated in the state’s northern and central areas, including Flagler, Lake, Clay, Hernando and Osceola counties. Elsewhere in the South and Mid-Atlantic regions, counties across Delaware, Maryland, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are considered to be at risk.
The report identified Shasta County—comprising the Redding metropolitan area in Northern California—and Navajo County northeast of Phoenix, as the only seriously vulnerable Western counties. In the Midwest, the Chicago metro area includes a cluster of at-risk markets.
Texas is expected to weather the storm better, with 10 of the 50 least vulnerable countries in ATTOM’s ranking, including three in the Dallas-Forth Worth area and two in the Midland-Odessa area. Wisconsin and Colorado have a total of 12 counties on low-risk list.