Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Foreclosing Down the House

Señor Briem is a glass half full kinda guy when it comes to the FORECLOSURE CRISIS IN PITTSBURGH. Or, maybe it's glass half empty... I suppose it depends on whether you want to have a glass full of foreclosures or a glass full of homeownership... My guess is that you don't want a whole lot of foreclosures unless you happen to be playing Monopoly and you've just landed on someone else's Boardwalk*...

Anyway, Chris argues that Pittsburgh, compared to the rest of the country, is not experiencing A MASSIVE NUMBER OF FORECLOSURES that are leaving THOUSANDS HOMELESS, or is even ON THE VERGE OF ANOTHER GREAT DEPRESSION and is TESTING THE VERY FABRIC OF CAPITALISM, but rather that the situation here is elevated by our standards, but manageable. Certainly it is not TIME TO CRACK EACH OTHERS SKULLS OPEN AND FEAST ON THE GOOEY MATTER INSIDE.

His counter example is Cleveland, which experienced 50,000 foreclosures in 2007... which is roughly 10% of all mortgages in the metro area (2000 Census) compared to 3.66% for the Pittsburgh metro area during the same period.

Not to say that Cleveland is necessarily the metro-region that we want to compare ourselves to... but in any case we ranked 86th out of 100 Cities for foreclosures in 2007. That's certainly good news.

This information, of course, sparks the question: could there be something that this region is doing (*gasp*) right for a change? Is Pennsylvania particularly restrictive on its lending practices so that usurious loans are prevented? Do we have a core of social services that are helping to prevent foreclosure through credit counseling and warnings about predatory lending? Or is it that housing here is just so dang inexpensive that you'd have to be really lazy or upside down to get foreclosed upon.

*In either case, it pays to be the banker.


Jim Kiley said...

I'm pretty sure that it's that housing in Pittsburgh remained a buyer's market throughout the real estate bubble. Demand here never got high enough to create a local bubble, except perhaps in a few very specific areas (I'm guessing Murrysville and Cranberry, but that's purely based on driving through them). So, there's no bubble to burst.

O said...

I suppose, but was there really that kind of bubble in Cleveland and, if so, why?

C. Briem said...

but what really gets interesting is the map I enlarged in this post:


Bram Reichbaum said...

It looks like the state of Ohio might have particularly BAD usury practices and counseling services? Can we zoom out even further?

I think it also has something to do with our regional failure (if we want to call it that) to create the booming exurbs that *attract* the many people fleeing cities?

Anonymous said...

The difference between Cleveland and the Burgh is that Cleveland had a HUGE exurb growth during that period in the surrounding counties, with the resulting influx of new Cleveland-area homeowners getting subprimes. In Pittsburgh, every county except for Butler lost population (remember the Katrina-New Orleans population loss?). Plus, the modest development in Cranberry was new construction, which didn't (a) drive up housing prices in the immediate area requiring subprimes or (b) create newly vacated housing in Pittsburgh with poorer borrowers getting subprimes. Pittsburgh didn't do anything right; all we did was lose population (which I would modestly suggest is a sign that something is *wrong*). In Philadelphia's surrounding counties the housing market is getting clobbered just as bad as otehr east coast cities.