The subprime mortgage meltdown is impacting neighborhoods across the country. At the same time, job cuts are further stressing the economy. As a result, home foreclosure rates have spiked and neighborhoods throughout the U.S. are poorer for it.
Are you thinking of moving, but looking for a neighborhood that promises more welcome wagons than "For Sale" signs? To aid your search, MainStreet asked RealtyTrac, a real estate tracking Web site, to compile data of the cities and metropolitan areas experiencing the lowest volume of foreclosures in February. We took the figures and compared them to employment rates supplied by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and then picked the top five cities with the lowest foreclosure rates that had a preliminary unemployment rate for February below or equal to the national average of 4.8%.
Here are MainStreet’s top five cities surviving the mortgage meltdown:
The birth place of Buddy Holly has an unemployment rate of 3.3%. “Not as many lenders were putting people in homes they could not afford and the local economy has been stable,” says Cade Fowler, association executive for the Lubbock Association of Realtors. Texas Tech University and Lubbock Lake are some of the offerings in this town where only one out of every 57,485 homes has experienced a foreclosure.
Here you'll find Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and only one out of every 41,715 homes in financial trouble. An unemployment rate of just 3.0% may be the reason behind the real estate success. “The economy [in Charlottesville] has been relative stable and we’re a little more isolated”, says Marjorie Adams, realtor at Remax Assured Properties. “It’s still a buyers market."
This county was made famous by the “York Peppermint Pattie” (which is now made by Hershey's (HSY)). What's even cooler? Their one out of every 33,775 home foreclosure ratio. This area has a high Amish population, and boosts an unemployment rate of just 4.8%. “Established credit and employment allowed a lot of people in the area to buy a home without subprime loans,” says John Wright, a realtor at Century 21 in York.
The University of Alabama and NorthRiver Yacht Club call this place home. A foreclosure rate of one out of 30,308 demonstrates this local's ability to survive the subprime mess. The unemployment rate is 3.5%. “Our real estate is different because we never saw a huge appreciation – the home sales gradually increased,” says Gale Cole, a realtor at Hamner Real Estate in Tuscaloosa.
Just one out of 29,158 homes is experiencing foreclosure in this lake and mountain area. A bonus is the metro area's 4.1% unemployment rate. “Most areas only have one, two or three buyer groups, and our area has five,” says Michael Gannett of Burlington Vermont Homes. The buyer groups are “relocation, recreation, second homes, telecommuters and retirees” and these groups “keep the market hopping,” says Gannett. Since the area is not overbuilt –there is no back log of unsold homes, says Gannett.