As a happy and proud long-time Austinite, I’m always drawn to news stories about our great city. As I real estate professional, I am especially interested in articles and lists that compare Austin to other areas. The Wall Street Journal recently had an article about a “housing stress indicator” that compares many U.S. cities and their pain and continuing vulnerability in the ongoing real estate downturn:
Which Cities Face Biggest Housing Risks?
Of course using different contributing factors might yield different results, but this index looks reasonably fair to me.
It is still true that four states — California, Florida, Arizona, and Nevada — were the hardest hit by the downturn, and they remain the most vulnerable in the coming months. Austin ranks 26th out of 49 metropolitan areas listed in that article — FAR better than the experience of most in those states, better than the national average in housing stress, and better than the Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and San Antonio metros.
We rank pretty well on housing affordability — in this study, the % of the population spending more than 30% of income on housing. We are among the best cities in terms of unemployment, which does help to provide some cushion against other financial strains. The percentage of Austin/Central Texas residents without health insurance is disappointing, but we’re right in the pack with the other metros with large immigrant populations. Taking all of this into account, I remain very glad that I have been here during this recession than many other places.
I would like to see Austin with an even lower housing stress indicator, but I took a decidedly “non-economic” look at this list and drew one more conclusion. With the exception of Birmingham, Alabama, every other major metro that ranked better than Austin has a major deficiency: they have winter. That’s too high a price for me!
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