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.
Barack Obama broke the mold back in 2008, becoming the first Democrat in the past 10 presidential elections to count Virginia in the win column, reportedly thanks to changing demographics in the region. Whether he can muster a repeat performance this time around depends on a number of factors, including the condition of the state’s housing market.
If the voters of Virginia could cast their ballots based only on whether they feel the state’s housing market is better off today than it was four years ago, which presidential candidate would win? Well, according to housing market data analyzed by RealtyTrac the Democrats would be on a roll, and Obama would win the state.
Based on five housing metrics analyzed by RealtyTrac, President Obama would barely eke out a victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in The Old Dominion State by the narrowest of margins, taking the state’s 13 electoral votes come election night.
Of those key metrics — average home prices, unemployment, foreclosure inventory, foreclosure starts and percent of distressed sales — three were better off than four years ago, which presumably favors the Obama administration, while two were worse off than four years ago.
Between July 2008 and July 2012 the average sales price of a home in Virginia dropped 24 percent while unemployment rose 37 percent to 5.9 percent (although still well below the national average). But on the other hand the state’s foreclosure inventory and the number of foreclosure starts have both fallen (52 percent and 22 percent respectively) between September 2008 and September 2012. Also, distressed sales as a percentage of total home sales in the state have dropped 22 percent from the second quarter of 2008 to the same quarter this year. Balancing those five factors out puts the advantage into Obama’s court.
“Yes, housing in Virginia is substantially better off today than it was four years ago,” said author and real estate investor Lance Young. “I’m an active investor and routinely flip several properties each year in the Northern Virginia area, next to Washington, D.C. I have flipped three properties in 2012 and have another in the ‘pipeline’ that I am going to purchase in December.
“There are more sales in my area compared with the past four years; however, I am NOT seeing any notable increases in values. In fact, I believe that the market has gotten better because of low interest rates more than any other factor. It’s important to note that Northern Virginia is next to Washington, D.C., and the unemployment rate in this area is very low compared to the rest of the country.”