(An article by Steve Brown)

By now you’ve heard about the huge debt problems in Ireland, the protests in London over government cutbacks and the growing financial crisis in Spain.

You can’t help but hear about it – on television and every news website.  And of course there’s the home foreclosure crisis in Florida, cascading unemployment in Michigan. And California is basically broke.

What does all that have to do with Texas? If not for the dire national and international news, we’d be feeling a lot better about our economy and real
estate market. Texas is in comparatively good shape when it comes to housing, commercial real estate and unemployment.

But it’s hard to feel good about that with all that’s going on in the rest of the world.

That’s a shame. During the Oil Patch meltdown of the late 1980s, our neighbors to the north and in booming West Coast markets didn’t seem to give a whit about our woes here in Texas.

Of course, the downturn is more universal this go-round, and the declines are steeper. But still, the Texas real estate market deserves props for getting through two years of a nuclear economic winter and only catching a cold.

Don’t take my word for it. Just this week the Brookings Institution put out its regular economic assessment of major U.S. metro areas, and Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth were near the top of all the lists. D-FW, and most of the other big Texas markets, were included in the top U.S. housing markets during the third quarter, according to the Brookings report. North Texas is among the areas that have seen the smallest home price declines since the nation’s housing market fell with a thud.

North Texas also got high marks for being one of the areas with the highest economic output and stronger employment markets.
And D-FW was singled out by Brookings as one of the top overall 20 markets in the country.

The only area where North Texas doesn’t outperform the rest of the country is in number of foreclosed homes. And there we are close to the middle of the pack.

Brookings estimates that about four out of every 1,000 D-FW homes with a mortgage is now in lender hands. The average among major U.S. metro areas is closer to six out of 1,000.

So again, things here aren’t so bad compared with the rest of the country. It’s just that it isn’t easy to get past all the noise about the international financial mess and problems in places like California and Arizona.

And Americans in general – the real estate industry found in a recent survey – are more pessimistic than in previous economic periods. The weight of all the bad buzz on our real estate market won’t be lifted right away. But when the chatter about U.S. economic trends improves, don’t be surprised if attitudes about Texas’ property market turn on a dime. Again, the hole we have to climb out of isn’t very deep.

Source: Dallas Morning News