A total of 811 U.S. county housing markets (52 percent) were rated as "better off" than they were two years ago, compared to only 11 percent (176 markets) categorized as "worse off," according to RealtyTrac's 2014 Election Housing Scorecard released on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, 560 counties (36 percent) were categorized as a "toss-up" as far as the health of housing market in those counties, according to RealtyTrac.
The total population of the markets in the better off category was about 140 million, which accounted for 50 percent of the population in all the housing markets RealtyTrac analyzed for the election housing scorecard. The total population of the worse off markets was 24 million, about 9 percent of the population in markets analyzed. The housing markets that rated as a toss-up had a total population of about 115 million, or 41 percent of the population in markets analyzed.
"The housing market recovery has truly taken hold in about half of the country, but the recovery is weak or experiencing a relapse in the other half," said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac. "Whether because of good government policy, sheer luck or otherwise, the majority of county housing markets in six of the eight states with close U.S. Senate races are better off than they were two years ago. This should favor the incumbent, or the incumbent’s party, all else being equal—which of course we know it is not. The only exceptions were Iowa and Alaska, where the majority of county housing markets were classified as toss-ups compared with two years ago."
RealtyTrac's election housing scorecard rated 1,547 county housing markets in the U.S. based on five factors that affect the health of housing: housing affordability, unemployment rates, median home prices, and foreclosure starts all compared with two years ago, as well as the percentage of seriously underwater homeowners.
With three weeks remaining before the midterm elections, RealtyTrac examined the housing market in eight states where the races are most highly contested: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and North Carolina. The states that had the highest population out of those eight states in the better off category were Colorado (99 percent, 4.8 million) and Kansas (97 percent, 2 million).
The states that had the highest population in the toss-up category were Alaska (81 percent, 387,000) and Iowa (62 percent, 641,000). Only three of those eight states reported at least one county in the worse off category: Iowa (29 percent, 304,000), Georgia (5 percent, 427,000), and North Carolina (4 percent, 387,000), according to RealtyTrac.