North, South Dakota Weathering Housing Crisis Better Than Most

North Dakota and South Dakota are faring well in the housing marketThe Dakotas are commonly knocked as remote places where few live or want to live. But hold the jokes -- new data suggests that the duo of northern Plains states are also more economically stable, with housing markets more steady than in most parts of the U.S.

The region tops the list for having the least-stressed counties with a population over 25,000, according to information compiled by The Associated Press. North Dakota's Ward County is first, followed by another in that state, Burleigh County. In third is South Dakota's Brown County.

The index -- based on unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy statistics -- also revealed that North Dakota is the nation's healthiest state, followed by South Dakota. Typically, the healthiest states experiences less stress.

So what's the magic in the less-populated, but land-rich Dakotas?
The Dakotas' economic diversity in agriculture and tourism drove the strong results, even amid the severe economic climate of the country, Rapid City Mayor Allan Hanks told the Rapid City Journal,

Other locals chimed in to say that low rates of unemployment and foreclosure, as well as the liquidity of its financial institutions, are behind the region's elevated economic position.

Pennington County, a region encompassing the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, came in eighth, nationally. The county's unemployment rate is 3.9 percent while national unemployment is at 9.6.

Curt Everson, president of the South Dakota Bankers Association, said the Dakotas avoided the subprime mortgage mess unlike other states with a high rate of foreclosure, such as Arizona or California.

"Good loan underwriting never really went out of style," he told the Rapid City paper. "You didn't have people issuing mortgage loans without verifying employment, income and those kinds of things. There were none of these 'no documentation' loans being made."

And this very well might be the case, judging by the foreclosure numbers.

In the least-stressed district of the U.S., Ward County, there were two foreclosures in July, according to RealtyTrac. Second-place Burleigh County had four. No data was available for third-place Brown County.

With the Dakotas faring better than the rest of the country, they're getting the last laugh.

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