West Virginia – Housing’s Version of the Tortoise and the Hare
At the height of the recession, nearly 1 out of every 10 West Virginians was unemployed. Even two years after the Great Recession was officially declared over, the unemployment rate in the Mountain State was still well above 8% -- not exactly ripe conditions for home buying!
Foreclosures around the state increased 56% in 2012. While that statistic may seem like West Virginia’s housing market is getting worse, it’s actually not. The Mountain State has a judicial foreclosure process – meaning that each foreclosure has to go through the court system. As a result, things take longer. So, foreclosures that officially hit the books in 2012 may have been filed long before that. Now that they’re out of the way, the housing market here can start to recover with more “traditional” sales.
And that means it’s up to realtors around West Virginia to drum up demand!
Going into 2013, realtors around the state admitted that West Virginia’s housing market was definitely a buyer’s market. Since 2008, home prices here have remained relatively steady – which homeowners aren’t too happy about – but the realtors say that’s not necessarily a terrible thing. As they point out, by not seeing huge gains, they don’t have to worry about the huge losses that can result from them. In an already weakened economy, they’d rather see small, stable gains, rather than a rollercoaster of sorts.
And, while some other places around the country may get fancy headlines for bidding wars and giant increases in home prices, West Virginia’s housing market is actually much more in line with the national average. Take Ashland, for example. Between the end of 2011 and the end of 2012, home prices here increased 5%. That’s just under the national average – which saw a 5.5% increase in prices in November 2012.
But what if you’re looking for immediate results?
In Charleston, the state’s Housing and Development Fund is trying to jump-start some momentum on its own. Specifically, they created a $10 million program in January 2013 for homebuyers who are looking for better mortgages in West Virginia.
Over in Morgantown, renting is the name of the housing game. After all, this is a college town! Like most parts of the country, the apartments for rent in Morgantown got more expensive in 2012. However, unlike most parts of the country, rent prices here didn’t skyrocket. So, if you’re looking for affordable student housing (or simply looking to live on a student-sized budget!), you’ll find plenty of it here.
Bottom line – realtors in West Virginia say to be patient. Like the tortoise and the hare proved, slow and steady wins the race!