UH Foreclosure Study Looks at Behavioral Reasons

$200,000 Study Supported by National Science Foundation

A new study at the University of Houston Center for Public Policy (CPP) uses a long lens to get a crisp view of foreclosures in the Houston area.

The National Science Foundation has awarded nearly $200,000 for the "Houston Region Foreclosure Study: A Panel Survey" to study segments of the Houston housing market and foreclosures.

A panel survey examines a population place-or both-over a period of time. This survey design is useful for uncovering emerging patterns that inform basic research and policymakers.

"Foreclosure happens at all income levels. We are interested in the behavior and circumstances that lead to foreclosure, as those can tell the tale for today and tomorrow," CPP director Jim Granato said. "We plan to track both people and neighborhoods in this study."

Recent reports indicate the rate of foreclosures nationally remains on the increase. The center's previous NSF studies on the Houston housing market have found distinct patterns regarding foreclosure. In particular, the foreclosures tend to be concentrated in specific geographic areas.

The "Houston Region Foreclosure Study" is a continuation of research the CPP has been conducting on the housing market in the Houston area, and is being done in conjunction with the CPP's Institute for Regional Forecasting. To date, and through NSF funding, researchers have collected data for the "Houston Real Estate Database" to understand the complexities and causes of foreclosure. Data includes information on single-family home sales from January 2000 through the first quarter of 2008, residential rents from January 2000 to December 2007, single-family home listings as of June 2008, and a listing of residential foreclosures for the Houston metropolitan area from January 2000 through the first quarter of 2008. Additionally, researchers have used aerial maps to show neighborhoods with the greatest number of foreclosures. To view the satellite images, visit http://www.uh.edu/cpp/Houston_Area_Foreclosures_Map.pdf

Granato says data from the new study will serve as a resource for the public and for policymakers.

"The picture of Houston's foreclosures will become even clearer the longer we track neighborhoods and survey residents," Granato said. "We're hopeful that the final part of our research on Houston's housing market will include a long-range study that follows the same group of people over many years."

For more information on the UH Center for Public Policy, visit http://www.uh.edu/cpp/.