A booming economy has been slowed in Wyoming by the national recession, a slower housing market and a downturn in the energy business. But unlike areas that experienced massive explosive growth in housing prices, Wyoming is holding its own in the housing bust and isn’t projected to feel the long wrenching pain in pricing deflation elsewhere.
The wind power boom coupled with an explosive growth in natural gas powered the “Cowboy State.” But as oil rigs and natural gas exploration companies laid-off employees and idled rigs the housing market slowed, and then the credit crunch hit to add another blow to the economy.
However, home sales in Cheyenne haven’t fallen off the cliff, mainly because the area has never been an over-heated housing market. Sales dipped over the past year, but not substantially with prices falling in the neighborhood of 15% from the markets peak. There are already signs beginning to show that Cheyenne’s housing market is starting to stabilize.
In Cheyenne, the state’s capitol, new home construction has been curtailed, but is expected to improve in 2010. Local bankers are lending on homes in the area, which was barely affected by the subprime mortgage crisis. The impact of the financial crisis should be limited over the year with a slight drop in average housing values forecast at just 3.1%.
Energy workers moved into the Lander area by the car loads during the boom and bought new homes built mainly by local builders. But once the energy business slowed, construction eased and laid-off employees tried to figure out their next move. The energy market has made strides towards improving since its’ downturn, but it could be a long while for the overall business to find its footing.
The cycle has led to some foreclosures in Lander, but not anything close to an epidemic of sorts else where. The slowdown will transform into a growing cycle of home sales with the extension of the first time home buyers program in the first half of 2010. Housing values are forecast to deflate a modest 2.0% in Lander over the year.
Wyoming has one of the lowest foreclosure rates in the country, and markets should be aided by that in their recovery. The natural gas methane fields near the city of Buffalo should add more workers as the market recovers, and the housing values should feel little impact through the year with forecast deflation at a slight 1.6%.
The worst of the housing market bust in Wyoming is projected to develop in the second home market in Jackson Hole, which has been an attraction to high-net worth individuals for its snow-skiing resort. Multi-million dollar homes have already fallen substantially and with the tighter lending market foreclosures have risen, and are forecast to fall another 10.9% in 2010 before finding a bottom in the high-end market.