Home price gains in Oklahoma's high-energy counties lag others in the oil patch

The Federal Housing Finance Agency included the special look at the stability of home prices in eight oil-and-gas-producing states in the years since the national housing bust as part of its third-quarter Home Price Index report.
BY RICHARD MIZE Real Estate Editor richardmize@opubco.com Published: December 3, 2011
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A federal look at home prices from 2006 to 2011 in the booming U.S. oil patch found a tie between appreciation and places with lots of energy jobs, which probably was no real surprise.

In Oklahoma, having more energy jobs also meant gains in home values — but not as much as in counties with fewer energy jobs, which might seem puzzling.

That's at least partly because of how an energy job and a high-energy county were defined in the study.

Low-energy Tulsa?

Tulsa County, for example — Tulsa, long known and still known in some quarters as the “Oil Capital of the World” — was not considered a high-energy county. Front-office and many other white-collar jobs that people consider oil-and-gas employment are classified as general management in federal studies.

The grouping of Tulsa County with non-high-energy counties alone could explain the puzzle. Home prices there increased at a greater rate during the five-year period than in Oklahoma County, which was grouped with high-energy counties.

Where the houses are

Comanche County, where Lawton home values also rose at a greater rate — mostly because of growth at Fort Sill — also was classified as a non-high-energy county in the federal study.

“These three metros have to account for nearly two-thirds of the total housing stock in the state,” said Chad Wilkerson, economist and Oklahoma City Branch executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Keeping Tulsa and Comanche counties — especially Tulsa — from the high-energy group was probably enough to explain why homes in high-energy counties didn't perform as well as others, he said.

The study

The Federal Housing Finance Agency included the special look at the stability of home prices in eight oil-and-gas-producing states in the years since the national housing bust as part of its third-quarter Home Price Index report released Monday. The FHFA regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks.

FHFA grouped counties in each state based on whether 2 percent or more of the counties' labor force was employed in mining or oil and gas extraction.

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