EDITOR’S NOTE: In the week before the presidential election, RealtyTrac is releasing a series of housing articles — dubbed the ‘Swing State Housing Scorecard’ — taking a closer look at eight swing states representing 95 electoral votes — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. These states are considered tossups and crucial to winning the White House. The articles will evaluate how each state will lean if voters choose a candidate based on whether their state’s housing market is better off (presumably Obama) or worse off (presumably Romney) than it was four years ago.
Still reeling from the nation’s highest unemployment rate and one of its highest home foreclosure rates, Nevada has emerged as one of the most highly contested battleground states.
Nevada’s worst-in-the-nation housing crisis hasn’t loomed large in the presidential election yet, but that could change as the fight to win the Silver State’s small but crucial 6 electoral votes heats up in the last few days before all votes are cast.
According to RealtyTrac’s Swing State Housing Scorecard, the key data impacting the housing market are average home prices, unemployment, foreclosure inventory, foreclosure starts and percent of distressed sales. Nevada is better off compared to four years ago based on three of the metrics — decrease in foreclosure inventory, decrease in foreclosure starts and a decrease in foreclosure sales — while the other two metrics paint the picture of a housing market that is worse off than four years ago (average sales price are down 33 percent and unemployment is up 51 percent).
Since President Obama won Nevada four years ago, the economy and the housing market have had mixed results. Unemployment remains painfully high in Nevada. The state boasts the highest jobless rate in the nation, at 11.8 percent in September 2012, up 51 percent from 8.7 percent when the incumbent won in 2008.
Still, foreclosure inventories are down 54 percent in the last four years, falling from 51,902 in September 2008 to 24,073 in September 2012. Moreover, foreclosure starts are down too, falling 85 percent from 6,253 starts in September 2008, to 937 in September 2012.
But despite those encouraging signs, not everyone is convinced that sticking with Obama is best for the state’s housing market.
“As a small business owner and resident of Las Vegas for over 25 years, I feel strongly that Romney will be better for Las Vegas,” said Ruth Ahlbrand, broker-owner of RE/MAX Central in Las Vegas, Nev. “Our city is filled with the entrepreneurial spirit. Las Vegas grew from under 400,000 people to over 1.9 million people since 1987. Small businesses support the entertainment industry and vice versa. Many small businesses are not expanding due to the uncertainty of this administration’s inability to give guidance versus giving away our tax payer dollars and creating the largest debt in history.”
Ahlbrand said “uncertainty” and the passage Nevada State Assembly Bill 284 is putting a squeeze on housing inventory.
The passage of AB 284 in October 2011 required lenders to file an additional affidavit before starting the foreclosure process in Nevada. That additional requirement has helped slow foreclosure activity considerably the last 12 months. The decrease in foreclosure activity has put a squeeze on inventory, and home prices are slowly rising in Nevada, although the average home price in the state is still down 33 percent compared to four years ago.
“Obama is not the leader that we need to achieve that which we are capable of achieving in this great city,” Ahlbrand said. “I voted for Romney yesterday.”
Other Swing State Housing Scorecards
Colorado Favors Romney