Ohio: Foreclosure Stalwart a Key to Election Victory

Politically speaking, holding the seventh highest number of electoral votes in the country (18) makes Ohio a key state for both the Obama and Romney campaigns — especially given that most experts believe the state could swing either way in the upcoming election.

In fact, this hotbed of foreclosure activity could be the deciding state in what is polling out as a dead heat presidential contest at the moment. If history tells us anything, it is that Ohio is subject to mood swings over time when it comes to selecting the next president.

In the last 10 presidential elections the state went Republican six times (1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004) and Democratic four times (1976, 1992, 1996 and 2008). For now, Obama holds a slight lead in the state, but that can change quickly as the race comes down to the wire.

Two key factors that could make a difference in the eyes of Buckeye State voters are unemployment and housing, particularly foreclosures.

Unemployment was already on the rise when Obama took office in January 2009. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, joblessness peaked statewide in July 2009 at 10.6 percent and remained at that level for seven months before beginning its descent. Since February 2010 statewide unemployment has steadily declined to 7.2 percent in August 2012, slightly below the national average.

As unemployment goes so goes foreclosure activity. Ohio was also one of the nation’s most intense hotspots for foreclosure activity early on in the housing crisis. At the time Cuyahoga County in particular was seen as one of the poster children for the stigma that swept the nation due to foreclosure and its resulting urban blight.

Although foreclosure activity in the state peaked in August 2007, over the past four years it has consistently maintained a spot in RealtyTrac’s Top 10 for total foreclosure activity. That being said, foreclosure activity statewide has fallen 16 percent between January 2009 and September 2012.

Ohio has also made occasional appearances on the firm’s Top 10 list of the highest state foreclosure rates over time. That status changed when the state became a regular on the Top 10 foreclosure rate list beginning in April 2012.

The most recent data collected by RealtyTrac regarding foreclosure sales show that for the second quarter of 2012, the sale of distressed properties accounted for 18.5 percent of all home sales in Ohio, no change from the first quarter of the year and up slightly from the second quarter of 2011. Of those, 7.3 percent were pre-foreclosure (short) sales, while 11.2 percent were bank-owned homes (REOs).

The average sales price for a distressed property in the second quarter was $75,797, an increase of 2 percent from the previous quarter. The average discount to purchase a distressed property in Ohio during the second quarter was 43 percent from the current market price for a similar traditional sale.  Short sales sold for an average price of $92,026 (a 31 percent discount from market value), while REOs sold for an average price of $67, 242 (a 49 percent discount from market value).

Are Ohio voters better off than they were four years ago? The unemployment numbers and the foreclosure numbers suggest that they are.

The stakes in Ohio are so high, that the U.S. Supreme Court just came down with a ruling today denying the state’s request to put a halt to early voting on the Friday before the election, according to published reports.

Whether voters stay the course with Obama for another term, or decide to bring the Romney-Ryan ticket up to bat will play out on Nov. 6th.

Meanwhile, both camps are busy sending in their big guns to Ohio. On Monday it was vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for the Republicans and first lady Michelle Obama for the Democrats.

Check out other related stories from the RealtyTrac Newsroom:
2012 Presidential Campaign: A Look at Florida
Ryan Doesn’t Take Biden’s Bait on Housing
Is More Mortgage Regulation Really Bad for Lending?

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