Oil Powers America's Healthiest Housing Markets

By Steve Cook, Real Estate Economy Watch   |   April 3, 2012 at 9:34 AM   |   Comments

What three things do Dallas, Midland, Tulsa, Billings, Oklahoma City, and Corpus Christi have in common?

They all missed the housing boom and bust, they are all booming with new oil production and they all made HomeValueForecast.com's top ten list of March markets as measured by nine leading indicators. America's pain at the pump is creating low unemployment rates and higher property values in traditional oil centers like Midland as well as newer ones like Billings where new fractioning techniques are making shale oil formations like the Bakken field in adjoining North Dakota accessible.

"The top ranked metros in the current month show a strong connection to such states as Texas and Oklahoma which directly benefit from the resurgence in U.S. oil exploration industries," said Dr. Michael Sklarz, co-author of HomeValueForecast.com.

The first indicator used to rank markets in HVF's battery of measurements is quarterly sales, the foundation of Skarz' approach to forecasting. "One of the most powerful and, yet, simplest leading indicator of the future direction of home price is sales activity. Our previous research has found that the leads can be anywhere from 6 to 18 months. The actual series which we use in our home price forecasting models is the Turnover Rate, which is the number of sales divided by the total housing stock," said Sklarz.

It that's the case, invest now in oil belt housing because production activity is hreaking records and home sales won't be far behind.

The Eagle Ford Shale oil field stretches for 400 miles across most of southern Texas, produces both natural gas and oil, and some analysts suggest that Eagle Ford could be producing energy and providing jobs for decades. Energy companies are rushing to the area to tap deposits that could produce up to 12 billion barrels of oil, enough natural gas to power every American household for at least five years.

However, Eagle Ford is not the whole story. Total wells drilled in Texas in February were up 85 percent over a year ago and that could just be the start. Texas today has 28 of the top 100 oil fields in the United States and proven reserves of 4.555 billion barrels. With horizontal drilling and fracking techniques pioneered by the natural gas industry being applied to shale oilfields like Eagle Ford, Texas is on the verge of a second oil boom. This time however, it's going to come from the state's vast shale oil fields.

About a quarter of Oklahoma's jobs are directly or indirectly tied to oil and gas production. Business leaders expect Oklahoma's energy sector to continue to expand in 2012 after oil production averaged 204 thousand barrels a day during 2011, topping 200 thousand bbl/d for the first time since 1998. Oklahoma-based independent energy companies, including Devon, Chesapeake Energy, Sandridge and Continental Resources, are expected to expand their operations and workforce during the coming year.

Montana conveys images of snowy peaks, not oil rigs, but the eastern half of the state is benefitting from the Bakken Oil Formation, a shale oil field with more than 20 billion barrels of oil that straddles the border with North Dakota, and Canadian oil sands. Local companies in Billings, which enjoys a 5.6 percent unemployment rate, are manufacturing equipment and shipping to Canada, as Canadian companies are dealing with a limited workforce.

The four non-energy related markets that made HomeValueForecast.com's top ten list are Clarksville, TN; Provo and Salt Lake City, UT; and Destin, FL.

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