Nationwide’s Health of Housing Markets Report

Select a quarter and then press “Play” to initiate the interactive map. To get the performance ranking for a specific MSA, zoom in or scroll over the map or click on the numerical ranking legend for wider comparisons.

Next Release: March 9, 2021

2020Q4 HoHM Report: Forbearance for delinquent loans keeps the housing outlook positive

  • The spike in mortgage delinquencies in the third quarter would normally have had a significantly negative impact on the national LIHHM*. Due to massive and timely forbearance policies, however, many of these delinquent loans have not slipped into foreclosure — nor are they likely to. As a result, we lowered the usual model delinquency factor to reflect current and expected policy, which left the national score little changed from last quarter at a slightly positive rating.
  • Within the adjusted data, most of the MSA rankings remained neutral or slightly negative — reflective of the drag on the housing outlook from this year’s job losses and elevated unemployment rates. Also, most MSAs are flat or down compared with a year ago due to the extended impacts of the COVID-19 recession.
  • In response to the extremely tight supply of homes for sale, home price appreciation has accelerated in many local markets. While mortgage rates remain near record lows, rapidly rising prices are a risk for housing affordability, especially if inventory levels remain very low as is expected.

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* Leading Index of Healthy Housing Markets (LIHHM): A data-driven view of the near-term performance of housing markets based upon current health indicators for the national housing market and 400 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and divisions across the country.

Forbearance policies for homeowners forced a change in the data

Mortgage delinquencies in third quarter (which shot above the peaks from the Great Recession) had a significantly negative impact on the original data for the national LIHHM*, dropping it below 100 for the first time in 10 years. But delinquencies in the current environment should not be viewed as they have been in the past due to government policy changes. Forbearance on delinquent mortgages will allow many homeowners to postpone payments and reschedule debts with lenders, preventing many (perhaps most) of these delinquencies from turning into foreclosures. It is likely that forbearance policies will be extended further under the incoming Biden administration. Consequently, we adjusted the national and local market delinquency rates to assume that a much smaller share of delinquent loans will ultimately default. After this adjustment, the national LIHHM was little changed from the second quarter, remaining modestly positive.

Even after the delinquency adjustment, elevated unemployment and a large contraction in jobs continue to weigh on the housing sector outlook. House price gains are also accelerating rapidly in response to the persistent imbalance between supply and demand in the market. If these trends continue, higher housing costs will eventually offset the positive affordability benefits from low mortgage rates, potentially pricing out some homebuyers.

National LIHHM

Authored by Nationwide Economics



Senior Vice President, Chief Economist

David holds a doctorate in Economics and a master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan. Prior to Nationwide, David served as Chief Economist, Strategist and Head of Risk Analytics for The PMI Group, Inc., and Vice President and Chief Economist for Fannie Mae. David has also served as Chief Financial Economist at Wharton Econometrics and visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. His government experience has included roles with the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, U.S. Treasury Department and the Office of Special Trade Representative. He is a past President of the National Association for Business Economics.

a headshot of Bryan Jordan


Deputy Chief Economist

Bryan is a frequent author and knowledgeable source on economic topics, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Bryan holds degrees in Economics and Political Science from Miami University and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. He currently serves as Chairman of the Ohio Council on Economic Education and is a member of the Ohio Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, the National Association for Business Economics, and the Bloomberg monthly economic forecasting panel.

a headshot of Ben Ayers


Senior Economist

Ben authors periodic economic analyses from the Nationwide Economics team, as well as commentary on key economic topics. Ben is also responsible for understanding and analyzing the enterprise business drivers to assist the strategic planning process. He holds a Master of Science in Economics from the Ohio State University, specializing in applied economic analysis, and a BSBA from the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University, with a focus on economics and international business.

Additional contributors: Andrew Adler, Brian Kirk and Daniel Vielhaber


This material is provided by Nationwide Economics and is general in nature. It is not intended as investment or economic advice, or a recommendation to buy or sell any security or adopt any investment strategy. Additionally, it does not take into account the specific investment objectives, tax and financial condition or particular needs of any specific person. We encourage you to seek the advice of an investment professional who can tailor a financial plan to meet your specific needs. The economic and market forecasts in this report reflect our opinion as of the date of this presentation/review and are subject to change without notice. These forecasts show a broad range of possible outcomes. Because they are subject to high levels of uncertainty, they may not reflect actual performance. Case studies and examples are for illustrative purposes only. We obtained certain information from sources deemed reliable, but we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness.