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What do we need to know about our housing market?

Neighborhoods in different zones require neighborhood stabilization, restoration, and protection strategies that take into account the physical and social context and market strength of those neighborhoods.

Risk of foreclosures

  • Your Federal Reserve Bank may be able to share information with you about the percentage of loans that are delinquent by ZIP code, as well as on adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) that are due to reset. 
  • HUD created “foreclosure risk scores” to support applications to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Local-level foreclosure data from HUD can be found here - but check to see whether it is current
  • Mapped foreclosure and foreclosure risk data can also be found at www.policymap.com

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Foreclosure filings and REO stock

  • Private data vendors (such as First American Core Logic) sell lists of foreclosure events such as auctions and lis pendens (notices of the intent to foreclose), as well as lists of properties in REO (“real estate owned” or bank-owned) status. Some sites, such as RealtyTrac.com, have data for sale but also offer limited information free of charge.
  • You can also purchase property transfer records from data vendors or obtain them from your local County Clerk’s office or Register of Deeds. These records list the name of both the buyer and the seller of a property. If the “buyer” is a lender and the seller is an individual, chances are good that the property is either a foreclosure or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

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Mortgage market conditions

  • The Mortgage Banker’s Association  provides a variety of market outlooks, forecasts and commentaries, as well as its National Delinquency Survey, providing delinquency statistics at the national, regional, and state level.
  • MortgageDaily.com provides articles and national-level statistics on trends in the lending industry.
  • HMDA (Home Mortgage Disclosure Act) data can help you track subprime lending trends, market share of different lenders, and patterns in loan denials or “frustrated” borrowers (for example, those who withdraw their applications or have them ruled “incomplete” by the lender). See: www.ffiec.gov.
  • Freddie Mac posts results of a weekly mortgage market survey here.
  • Talk to your local state Housing Finance Agency to understand their mortgage products and their take on current issues in the market.
  • Consider conducting interviews with local lenders and mortgage brokers to understand current products, the most common barriers in your market for people to qualify for a mortgage, and other lending market trends.
  • Foreclosure counseling organizations can provide you with an understanding of who is being foreclosed on and why.

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Current and Historical For-sale market conditions

    • You can use data from your Register of Deeds (and sometimes your Tax Assessor’s office) to identify the number and price of home sales. Using Tax Assessor’s data, you can compare the mailing address of the property owner to the property address to estimate whether a property is owner-occupied. Sorting this data by year of most recent sale can help you to understand whether owner-occupants or investor-owners are buying property in your target neighborhoods.

    • You can also use data from private vendors or your local Association of Realtors.® Interviews with Realtors® are an excellent way to get a rich understanding of market trends and how different neighborhoods are perceived.

  • Go to www.realtor.com or your local Association of Realtors® to get information on the number of homes for sale. By comparing the number of homes listed to actual recent sales volumes, you can estimate the number of months of inventory of homes on the market.
  • A number of private data vendors sell house price indices, which are often more accurate ways of measuring house price trends than simply comparing median prices. Zillow.com provides some home sales information free of charge at both the individual home and neighborhood level.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) produces a House Price Index measuring house price changes at the state and metropolitan level.
  • Realtor.org’s Research Page has data on existing and new home sales, housing starts, and housing prices, as well as economic forecasts.
  • The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has a wide range of housing and economic data.
  • The Census Bureau provides data on the number of housing units (both for sale and rental) obtaining construction permits.

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Current and Historical Rental market conditions

  • Check with your state Housing Finance Agency to see if they offer data on vacancy rates and financial performance of affordable rental properties.
  • The American Communities Survey provides annual data on the rental housing stock, rents, vacancies, and cost-burdened renter households for counties and places with a population of 65,000 or more, and 3-year averages for counties and places with a population of 20,000 or more.
  • The Census also publishes quarterly rental vacancy rates, and homeowner vacancy and homeownership rates here.
  • Fair Market Rents (FMRs) are determined by a survey methodology. You can find the FMRs for your area here.
  • Interviews with small landlords are often the best way to understand how the “mom-and-pop” segment of the rental market is performing.
  • Compiling data on asking rents from newspaper listings can also help you to track the market.
  • The National Multi Housing Council provides reports on apartment market conditions and directories of data providers.
  • Private data vendors such as Reis and CBRE Econometric Advisors sell information on current rental market rents, vacancy levels, and absorption trends for states and many metropolitan areas.

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Physical conditions

    • Contact your local codes enforcement office for data on buildings with code violations.

    • Your codes enforcement office, fire department, or police department may also be compiling listings of vacant and abandoned properties. Local utilities (water, electric) can also be a good source of information about addresses that have had inactive utilities for some time.

  • US Postal Service data on vacant properties is available here.
  • Direct observation, with a checklist in hand, is a great way to understand neighborhood physical conditions. Photographs can be very helpful. Software called Neighborhood Survey Pro is available that can assist you with conducting a survey of neighborhood physical conditions. Success Measures, a NeighborWorks® America program, also offers some checklist tools for this purpose.
  • Data on land use patterns can usually be obtained through parcel datasets from your Tax Assessor’s office and/or local planning department.

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Broad economic and population trends

  • The American Communities Survey provides annual data on the rental housing stock, rents, vacancies, and cost-burdened renter households for counties and places with a population of 65,000 or more, and 3-year averages for counties and places with a population of 20,000 or more.
  • The Census Bureau produces County and ZIP Code business patterns data showing employment and payroll levels by industry.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces Local Area Unemployment Statistics down to the County level.
  • Local employment dynamics information can track the number of employed residents down to the neighborhood (Census Block Group) level.
  • Data vendors such as ESRI and Claritas produce estimates of demographic data (population, ethnicity, household type, etc.) and economic indicators (unemployment, consumer expenditures, business establishments, etc.) at geographic levels ranging from very small (Census block groups) to large (Counties).

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Other neighborhood conditions

  • The US Department of Justice provides local crime data hereSpotCrime.com aggregates crime reports and displays them on searchable maps.
  • Several web services such as GreatSchools and SchoolMatters provide data on school performance, demographics and enrollment free of charge.
  • Walk Score serves up information about neighborhood services within walking distance of any US address.
  • Other fee-based websites offer a variety of data on neighborhood quality of life (for a target audience of prospective homebuyers more so than market researchers). Examples include Neighborhood Scout.

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