Hurricane Harvey leaves the Houston housing market in a bit of a mess

Jennifer Bryant looks over the debris from her family business destroyed by Hurricane Harvey Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Katy, Texas. Harvey rolled over the Texas Gulf Coast on Saturday, smashing homes and businesses and lashing the shore with wind and rain so intense that drivers were forced off the road because they could not see in front of them. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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A report on the Houston housing market shows that foreclosures were on the rise before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, and are expected to increase even more in the wake of the storm. A report from Attorn Data Solutions, a real estate market analysis firm, showed that foreclosure postings in Houston rose by 67 percent from the previous year, compared to a 21 percent increase across the nation.

Daren Blomquist, an economist with Attorn Data Solutions, told a Dallas newspaper that the troubled Houston housing market will only get worse in the wake of Harvey.

“The Houston housing market was already showing signs of distress even before Hurricane Harvey hit,” Blomquist said. “Hurricane Harvey will mean even more distress in the Houston housing market over the next year or two, although it may take some time for that to show up in the foreclosure numbers given the foreclosure moratoriums in place.”

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Another factor that could mean another hit to the market is the number of distressed home sales. With thousands of homes sustaining catastrophic damage, both due to the rains and to the release of floodwaters from two major reservoirs, many homeowners are selling homes “as-is,” hoping to recoup at least a fraction of their investment.

According to real estate market observers, other homeowners may simply choose to walk away from their mortgages. With high demand for contractors, and the accompanying high costs of repair, homeowners without flood insurance may not have a choice but to leave their homes and take the losses.

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The loss of homes due to the floods, combined with an ongoing labor shortage in the construction trades, could lead to a severe housing shortage in the months and years to come. The ripples from Harvey, and Irma in the southeastern U.S., could contribute to a nationwide housing shortage.

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