CoreLogic's latest set of Nashville-area housing data provides another piece of evidence that we are taking tiny steps toward a healthy residential real estate market — and by extension, a stronger regional banking sector. The number of people whose mortgages are at least 90 days late dipped to 4.84 percent — more than a point below their post-recession peak — while the foreclosure rate ticked down to 1.53 percent.
The foreclosure rate is the lowest since September of 2010, while the delinquency rate is at its lowest in almost three years. Plus, there's a lot less dark red on the map these days.
The residential construction sector appears to be gathering steam: The order backlog of all of the nation's largest publicly traded builders has grown by 34 percent in the past year. Provided these companies don't get ahead of themselves, that should provide an employment boost to the economy in the coming quarters.
A study by researchers from UCLA at Holland's Maastricht University shows that homes certified as being environmentally friendly fetch an average of 9 percent more when they're sold. And that's not the only way being green pays off.
Researchers also found something they dubbed the Prius effect: Buyers in areas where consumer sentiment in support of environmental conservation is relatively high — as measured by the percentage of hybrid auto registrations in local ZIP Codes — are more willing to pay premiums for green-certified houses than buyers in areas where hybrid registrations were lower.
In at least one statistical category, Tennessee's housing markets took a nice step in the right direction in the second quarter, according to research firm CoreLogic. Three months ago, 23 percent of Tennessee properties with a mortgage were in negative-equity territory. As of June 30, that number had fallen to 16.2 percent, a drop significant enough to merit a mention in CoreLogic's national release.
"In the first quarter of 2012, rebounding home prices, a healthier balance of real estate supply and demand, and a slowing share of distressed sales activity helped to reduce the negative equity share," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "This is a meaningful improvement that is driven by quickly improving outlooks in some of the hardest hit markets. While the overall stagnating economic recovery will likely slow housing market recovery in the second half of this year, reducing the number of underwater households is an important step toward reducing future mortgage default risk."
To see a detailed map showing negative equity by county, click here.
The researchers at Clear Capital say the housing market in most of the nation's largest cities continues to steadily improve but remains vulnerable to any new shocks. Prices in many MSAs are expected to climb nicely in 2012 — a dozen cities should see average gains of 4 percent or more — but Nashville isn't one of them. Clear Capital has us barely topping break even this year, lagging Memphis and Louisville, but well ahead of Birmingham, Charlotte and Atlanta.