One year after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the housing market in Ferguson, MO, remains deeply depressed, according to a report by RealtyTrac.
The number of properties in foreclosure increased by 15.79% during the first half of this year when compared with the same timeframe in 2014. Nationally, foreclosure filings declined by 2.65%. But statewide, foreclosures increased in Missouri by 32.17% in the first half of this year.
In addition, the number of homeowners whose mortgages are “seriously underwater” — that is, the balance of their mortgages is higher than the value of their homes — is triple the national average and double the statewide norm. In the second quarter, 42.9% of all Ferguson properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater, the report said.
Aside from the impact on existing homeowners, the shooting and the violent protests that followed have tanked home sales and prices in the city.
Home to about 21,000 people, Ferguson’s housing market was already in trouble before the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting, as the city had been slow to recover from the recession. But within four months of the incident, home sales in the Saint Louis suburb had dropped by 32%.
The impact of crime on home values is often short-lived, but the average selling price of homes in the city has continued to decline, according to real estate information service MARIS. During the first quarter of 2015, the average home sold for $22,951 — two-thirds less than before the shooting.
In addition, the city is facing an increasing budget deficit, and businesses damaged during the riots have struggled to recover. Still, the area’s largest taxpayers — retailers Home Depot, Walmart and Sam’s Club, along with a local manufacturer and shopping mall — have elected to stay in the city, which some have said is a sign that they are hopeful for a return to normal.