The Impact Of Earthquakes On Housing


ATTOM Data Solutions and Greenfield Advisors, an economic and real estate research firm, released an analysis of housing market trends in Oklahoma following the recent spike in earthquake activity in that state.

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The analysis was based on public record real estate data collected and licensed by ATTOM along with earthquake data from the U.S. Geological Survey and oil price data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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The analysis found that statewide in Oklahoma earthquakes increased 375 percent between the four quarters ending in Q1 2014 and the four quarters ending in Q1 2016, when earthquake activity reached a peak of 336 earthquakes during the quarter.

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Foreclosure activity — including default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions, and bank repossession (REOs) — increased 19 percent over the same time period following a nearly four-year downward trend. Statewide foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis in five of the seven quarters ending in Q1 2016 following 15 consecutive quarters of year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity.

But home sales volume and prices continued to trend higher during the two-year period ending in Q1 2016. Home sales statewide increased 12 percent between the four quarters ending in Q1 2014 and the four quarters ending in Q1 2016, and median home prices in Q1 2016 were up 9 percent from Q1 2014.

“Home sales and prices have consistently been trending higher in Oklahoma over the past four years, aligning with the national housing market recovery, but foreclosure activity in Oklahoma over the past two years has diverged from the national trend, rising 19 percent during the same two-year period where earthquake activity increased 375 percent,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.

“Oil prices that plummeted 64 percent during the same two-year period could also be contributing to the rise in foreclosure activity across the state, although it’s important to note that foreclosure activity actually decreased 14 percent during the same time period in Tulsa County, where no earthquake epicenters were reported,” Blomquist continued. “Meanwhile in Oklahoma County, where earthquake activity increased 20 percent over the past two years, foreclosure activity increased 39 percent over the same time period.”

“While sales volumes and sale prices have been trending higher over the past four years, consistent with the overall housing market recovery, geographic scale is important when evaluating whether the earthquakes are responsible for loss of property value,” said Clifford A. Lipscomb, vice chair and co-managing director at Greenfield Advisors, a Seattle-based economic and real estate research firm. “Repeatedly, in our work, we see that state and county level sales data can mask what’s going on in particular neighborhoods. To tie earthquake activity to loss in property value, it takes a close examination of the affected area and control areas, or areas that are similar to the affected area in several dimensions.”