Texas generally, and Central Texas specifically, experienced the real estate downturn very differently than many other parts of the country. I have commented on that many times in the past, but a striking comparison appears in the latest Foreclosure Market Trends newsletter from RealtyTrac.
The lead article this month covers 20 Metros with More Foreclosures For Sale in 2013. One chart there ranks 20 cities that experienced at least 2,000 foreclosures in 2012. Another ranks 20 cities where foreclosure listings are expected to increase by at least 20% in 2013.
To contrast the Austin/Central Texas experience with those in the RealtyTrac report, consider Panama City, Florida. Like most of the cities on the list of twenty most likely to see an increase in foreclosure activity this year, Panama City has already seen much of the worst of the housing downturn. This city of 36,686 people and 15,399 households (2011 census) ranks 5th, with an expected increase of 38% in 2013 compared to 2012. From January through November 2012, a total of 1,303 foreclosures were started. 723 were completed. Completed foreclosures amounted to 4.7% of all households — almost 1 out of 20.
The Austin metropolitan area, on the other hand, using the same 2011 U.S. census data, reported a total population of 1,783,519. That translates to about 674,000 households. In all of 2012 there were 2,588 sales of foreclosed residential properties — 0.3% of all households, or about 1 out of 260. The rate of foreclosure in Panama City last year was almost 16 times the rate in Austin!
Obviously, for the families involved, foreclosure is a very painful event, but from a metropolitan statistical perspective, these distressed properties exert only negligible pressure on sales and general price levels.