These are the US areas most at risk of housing downturn, according to Attom report

Homes in and around New York City and Chicago are most vulnerable to price declines in a potential economic downturn, according to a report released Thursday (Sep 15) by real estate data analytics firm Attom.

Of the 50 counties most at risk, 9 are in and around New York City, 6 are in the Chicago metropolitan area, and 13 are spread through California. These counties have high levels of unaffordable housing, underwater mortgages, foreclosures and unemployment. In contrast, counties least at risk - concentrated in the South and Midwest apart from Chicago - have lower such levels.

After a pandemic-related boom, the Federal Reserve's aggressive tightening policy and elevated inflation are crimping the once-booming US housing market. Rising mortgage rates have helped to dampen sales and force an increase in income needed to cover a typical home payment.

"Given how little progress has been made reducing inflation so far, the Fed's actions seem more and more likely to drive the economy into a recession, and some housing markets are going to be more vulnerable than others if that happens," said Rick Sharga, executive vice-president of market intelligence at Attom. 

The most vulnerable New York City counties include Kings and Richmond counties, which cover Brooklyn and Staten Island, and 7 counties in the suburbs: Bergen, Essex, Ocean, Passaic, Sussex, Union and Rockland. New York County, or Manhattan, ranks 52 out of the 575 analysed. Passaic and Essex counties in New Jersey top the list respectively at first and second.

Seventh most at risk is Cook County, which holds Chicago and is the only one with a population of at least 1 million that ranks among the top 25.

Counties with a minimum population of 500,000 that were among the 50 safest include Washington's King County, which encompasses Seattle; Texas's Travis County that includes Austin; Utah's Salt Lake County; Wake County in North Carolina, and Cobb County in Georgia, according to the report.

The report gauged risks that housing markets face based on the percentage of homes facing possible foreclosure, the portion with mortgage balances that exceeded estimated property values, the percentage of average wages required to pay for major home ownership expenses on median-priced single-family homes, and unemployment rates as of the second quarter this year. BLOOMBERG



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