Gauging the economy in Oklahoma from the national press has always been confusing. Remember the late ’80’s when every National business page was talking about the go-go stock market and ever-escalating real estate prices — well, except for us where bank closings and Sheriff’s Sales were creating the only new industry in town. Ok, so that is an exaggeration; but you get the point.
Now, the national press is decrying a rise in bankruptcy filings and seriously scary foreclosure statistics. Locally, I’m hearing a different story. So, what is going on here?
Bankruptcy filings are easy. In the Western District of Oklahoma in February, 2007 there were 330 bankruptcy cases filed. In February 2008 there were 423 cases filed. Statistically, that is significant. Compared to the last few years before the Bankruptcy reform act was passed, it is still a drop in the bucket.
So, how about foreclosures? USAToday.com has run an article with foreclosure numbers by State, regionally and nationally. Oklahoma’s percentage of all mortgages that were past due for 4th quarter 2007 was 6.48%. The percentage of all mortgages in foreclosure was 2.05%. Nationally, those same figures are: 6.31% and 2.04%.
So, what does this all mean? Don’t know. I can’t say that I am thrilled that almost 6.5% of all mortgages in my State are past-due, but the construction people in my office building are busy. At the same time, my phone keeps ringing too.
I’m hearing that commercial construction has started to slow down here in Central Florida, with the exception of government contracts, mostly schools and prisons. The schools will be next, but I’m sure we’ll manage to continue our prison system expansion.
Here in my 40-unit condominium, over 10% of the units are either empty or for sale and the overall feeling is just plain-old grim.
If this one is going to land more lightly on Oklahoma than the late 1980s one did, you should be grateful