No. 3 lagging market: Rockford, Ill.
Located some 50 miles from Chicago's outer suburbs (and with major employers such as Sears (SHLD), whose world headquarters are in suburban Hoffman Estates), Rockford is another community that Blomquist believes once attracted "exurban" buyers but no longer does.
Add in an 11% local jobless rate -- the highest among the five communities at the bottom of RealtyTrac's rankings -- and the 348,000-population Rockford area looks anything but rock solid when it comes to housing.Some 43% of homeowners whose residences aren't all paid off are underwater, while distressed sales -- transactions involving properties in some stage of the foreclosure process -- account for 31% of all deals. (The U.S. average is 23%.) All told, Rockford's median home prices have rebounded only 15% from their March 2012 trough. Again, that's below the 19% U.S. average.