Map of Housing Price Index Change Illustrates Four Clusters of Misery

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March 5, 2012 at 9:10 am  •  Posted in Geography, Real Estate by  •  3 Comments

A couple days ago I posted a list of metropolitan areas and their associated 5-year change in housing prices.  I find it interesting to see the data at a more granular level because when you aggregate by state a lot of information gets hidden away.

Today I made a map of the same data.  I used a new web-based mapping program that TerraSeer is developing called MarketSeer.  More on that coming soon.  The mapping program is in beta so some options (colors, etc) are limited but here’s a map displaying Housing Price Index changes over 5 years.  The darkest green circles have the largest declines in home prices and the light colored circles have had either modest declines or increases in housing prices.  The circles are sized by population.

Now some cartographers might complain because maybe I should use CBSA polygons rather than circle symbols.  But, what I like about this map is that if you sort of squint and just look for broad patterns you can see 4 clusters of “housing misery”, or at least I see four.  [Maybe you see something different?  If so, leave a comment.]  The four clusters I see are (1) the West Coast “PAC-10” region (that’s right not PAC-12 because Utah and Colorado haven’t been hit as hard) with central California, Phoenix and Vegas taking the brunt of the punishment; (2) Florida – pretty much the whole state has been absolutely clobbered; (3) the Great Lakes region with Detroit leading the parade; and, to a lesser extent, (4) the Bos-Wash Atlantic corridor and nearby metros.

So anytime you turn on the news you hear that the whole country has been suffering through a housing crisis.  But, it turns out that only a portion of the country is really facing crisis levels of decline whereas most of the Rocky Mountain region, the Central Plains and the South (excluding Florida) haven’t really felt the same pain.

I wonder what impact this lack of geographical precision has had on the national political conversation regarding how to fix the housing problem?

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