East Coast Housing Remains Vulnerable to Coronavirus Impact

Nearly a year after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, housing markets in the Northeast and other parts of the East Coast remained most at risk during fourth quarter, said ATTOM Data Solutions, Irvine, Calif.

The company’s quarterly Special Coronavirus Report said New Jersey, Illinois, California, Louisiana, New York, Florida and Maryland had 40 of the 50 counties most vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic in the fourth quarter. They included eight suburban counties in the New York City metropolitan area, four near Philadelphia, and two near Washington, D.C. Another six sat in the Chicago suburbs and two were in the St. Louis area.

Five of the seven western counties in the top 50 during the fourth quarter were in northern California, while Illinois had eight of the nine midwestern counties among those most vulnerable. Outside of Florida and Maryland, the only southern state with more than two counties in the top 50 was Louisiana.

Fourth-quarter trends generally continued those found in the third quarter, but with different concentrations around several major metropolitan areas. The number of counties among the top 50 most at-risk was up from five to eight in the New York area and from three to six in the Chicago area, but down from four to two in the Washington, D.C., region and from four to one in the Baltimore area.

The findings come as the national housing market continues to withstand the effect of the virus pandemic while also remaining vulnerable to a fall. Home values shot up in 2020 by more than 10 percent in about three-quarters of the country, even as significant portions of the economy were shut down or idled, spiking unemployment. But amid a halting economic recovery, the ongoing market boom faces major questions connected to how long the pandemic will last, whether another recession looms and if a surge of buyers seen last year continues.

“Areas of the U.S. most at risk from damage connected to the Coronavirus pandemic spread out somewhat in the fourth quarter of 2020. But they still fell mainly along the East Coast, with significant pockets in certain areas, while other parts of the country seem to be less vulnerable,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “In the coming months, much will depend on whether the country can halt the pandemic.”