Saturday, January 24, 2009

Foreclosures in the Exurbs

Foreclosures are concentrated in the exurbs. I’ve previously posted here about how this is primarily a vintage problem; in these new developments the houses were sold and financed in a relatively short time frame at the peak of the market using aggressive financing, and hence when the downturn occurred these neighborhoods have been hit in a very concentrated way.

Green Valley Ranch, a development on the outskirts of Denver, is a poster child for this problem. From an April, 2008 USA Today story:

This small corner of the Mile High City represents an extreme example of how foreclosures are transforming lives and neighborhoods. On some blocks, as many as one-third of the residents have lost their homes, making this one of the worst hotspots in a city that was among the first to feel the pinch of the foreclosure crisis. Many houses here remain empty, bank lockboxes on the front doors…

     Many neighborhoods in Denver and across the nation have largely been spared from that tide, but others have been hammered.

     That's especially true here, along the broad avenues of Green Valley Ranch, a remote subdivision of soft-colored houses with red-tile roofs sewn into the vast carpet of flat, open land on the city's eastern edge. As Denver's housing market boomed at the beginning of this decade, the area became a magnet for low- and middle-income families buying their first homes in the kind of brand-new neighborhood they once thought would always be beyond their reach. Some turned to more-expensive subprime loans, which charged higher interest rates to borrowers with bad credit. Others got adjustable-rate mortgages and saw their payments increase sharply after two years.

This is Green Valley Ranch’s location:


Here is a map from the USA Today article showing foreclosure activity in the neighborhood between 2006 and 2008:


(Click on image for a larger version in a new window)

Note that this is happening in Denver, where home prices have  remained relatively stable (see this post for information on Denver’s performance relative to other markets).