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September 11, 2019

Analysis shows cities at most, least risk of housing crash in next recession

Real Estate Analysis

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Aerial photo of Rochester Tomkinsc/Creative Commons

For much of 2019, there have been rumblings that economic signs point to the possibility of a U.S. recession looming on the horizon.

Whether it’s an inverted yield curve in the bond market, slowing GDP growth or global trade disputes, there are signals of possible risk present multiple areas of the economy.

In advance of the 2008 recession, there were clear signs that the U.S. housing market was on an unsustainable path before it crashed. This time around, a strong housing market is far less likely to be the cause of a crash.

A new analysis by Redfin looks at the U.S. markets that will be most and least likely to face a housing downturn in the event of a recession.

The study looks at a variety of key indicators, such as home sale price-to-income ratio, average home loan-to-value ratio, home price volatility and flips share of sales.

“Whatever does end up causing the next recession, housing markets in certain metro areas are at greater risk of negative impacts like declining prices and a glut of homes for sale,” analysts at Redfin wrote.

The areas at the highest risk tend to see a higher rate of home flippers who are turning quick profits on properties. Those cities include Riverside, California (6.3% flips share of sales), Phoenix (8.1% flips share of sales) and Miami (7.5% flips share of sales).

Other cities deemed at risk include San Diego, Providence, Tampa, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Notably, none of the cities with the lowest risk of a housing crash are west of the Mississippi River. The five cities best prepared for a recession are Rochester, New York; Buffalo, New York; Hartford, Connecticut; Cleveland, Ohio; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

These cities not only had fewer flips, but lower home price volatility and lower home sale price-to-income ratios.

“Home prices are high right now, but they’re high because there’s not enough supply to meet demand, which means there’s not a bubble at risk of bursting,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “Most of today’s financed homeowners have excellent credit and a cushion of home equity, making them unlikely to default on their mortgage even if their weekly grocery bill grows or their stock portfolio shrinks in the next recession.”

If there is a recession, Fairweather believes it will be fueled by trade wars. The Americans most at risk will be those who work in affected industries that decide to layoff workers to offset losses.

“Would-be homebuyers won’t feel so confident about making a big purchase when they don’t feel confident about their job security or their financial wellbeing,” Fairweather said. “That could cause declines in home prices in markets whose economy depends on global trade, but home prices nationwide are likely to hold steady.”