Best and Worst States in the Housing Recovery

By Gerri Detweiler

We've been inundated with news stories about the housing market recovery, along with a few counter-arguments by skeptics who think we still have a long way to go. These analyses tend to focus on prices, sales or new homes built. While those figures are important, they often leave out an important factor: credit. To buy a home today, you generally need decent credit. In 2012, some 75 percent of residential mortgages originated went to borrowers with VantageScores in the top two tiers -- "A" and "B" borrowers.

Those states where residents have strong credit scores, and where they are actually qualifying for loans are in a better position to contribute to a robust recovery. Indeed, everyone from the National Association of Home Builders to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have bemoaned tight credit standards as a drag on the recovery of the housing market. We examined credit-related factors that can aid, or conversely hinder, the housing recovery across the nation, using data from the Experian-Oliver Wyman Market Intelligence Reports. Experian recently launched IntelliView, a Web-based query, analysis and reporting tool that crunches the data in these reports. We used this tool to compile our list, in addition to supplementary data obtained from Corelogic. All data is from the fourth quarter of 2012 unless noted. Specifically, we included in our rankings:

1. Percentage of mortgage accounts 90+ or more days delinquent. We included this factor because severe delinquencies are hard to cure, and make it difficult for the homeowner to refinance or buy a new home if they are able to sell.

2. Number of new new mortgage accounts originated. This figure represents how many new home loans are being generated in that state. It can include loans that were used to refinance an existing mortgage as well as those used to purchase a home. Since lenders now require higher credit standards and many require a down payment of at least 20% (or an equivalent amount of equity for a refinance), a greater number of new mortgages should indicate a healthier mortgage market in that state.

3. Average VantageScore by state (as of December 2012).Credit scores will most certainly play an important role in a robust housing recovery. After all, builders can build all the houses they want, but it doesn't do any good if borrowers can't qualify for mortgages to buy them. A high credit score makes it easier to buy without enough cash saved for the purchase.

4. Foreclosure Inventory (as of November 2012).Foreclosed homes can be a drag on prices and can also be challenging to buy without sufficient financial resources often needed to get a mortgage and/or fix these homes up. The following are the best and worst states, according to our rankings:

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