The state best known for its picturesque Appalachian Mountains and rugged individualism has recently been ravaged by near collapse of the mortgage market. Affected more than most states by the mortgage meltdown and the economic collapse of recent years, West Virginia is ranked as the state with the second highest per housing unit number of foreclosures. From Romney to Moorefield, from Huntington to Parkersburg, from Wheeling to Morgantown, from Fairmont to Weirton, from Martinsburg to Beckley and Clarksburg or anywhere in between, there is a trail across the state of West Virginia of foreclosures as devastating as anything the state has seen before. In every metropolitan area, mining and farming community, mortgage companies and banks have repossessed homes owned for generations by the families of the Mountain State.
The economy of West Virginia is similar to many of its sister states as West Virginia has intentionally diversified far from its historically agrarian culture. While many states and communities have entrenched themselves into a single industry, West Virginia has been the recipient of significant investments in industries such as Alternative Energy, Biotech, Chemical, Aerospace and several others. This diversification has combined to create an economic environment that has lead to West Virginia having one of the highest growth rates in the country.
Gross state product for 2009 was reported at $63 billion and grew by .7% during the height of the recession. This growth no matter how modest was better than 43 other states in the United States.
Diversification and the growth that came as a result are the reasons most experts agree that has lead West Virginia to have a lower unemployment rate than the national average as well as the second lowest number of foreclosures per housing unit in the country. Home ownership is a point of pride for the citizens of West Virginia as is represented by a 75.2% home-ownership rating. This percentage is a full 10 points higher than the national average.
The statistics provided here represent good news for real estate and foreclosure investors as there may be fewer opportunities but the investments that do present themselves have a greater probability of being turned into a resale or rental faster than in other states. Shorter time on the market means lower carrying costs and higher profit margins.
Even though West Virginia has diversified its economy in recent years, coal production is still a large portion of the economy as West Virginia produces 10% of the Nations coal and the state is the largest producer of coal east of the Mississippi, employing more than 30,000 residents of the state.
Farming in the state of West Virginia remains an important element of the state. What makes West Virginia farming unique is the high number of privately owned and operated farms, the fact that these farms are generally much smaller than farms in other states that are owned by conglomerates. This is mainly due to the rough terrain of the state which makes massive farming projects less practical than in other states with large wide and flat landscapes. This terrain has also lead to differences in what farms in West Virginia produce. This difference is made clear in that fact that farms in West Virginia produce 700 percent more dollars from animals than from all cash crops combined. No doubt this cattle intensive farming model is a result of adapting to the land, showing West Virginia's self sufficient, rugged individualism is a long standing tradition.
This self sufficiency is yet another reason why buying foreclosures in West Virginia is going to lead to a successful financial outcome as the residents that lost their homes will not soon give up on home ownership and will become good tenants in the short term and great buyers in a couple of years.
This is good news for real estate investors and foreclosure buyers so long as they maintain their financial focus on the metropolitan areas that are most likely to come back from economic disaster first and strongest. The more rural the region the more difficult it will be to either resell the investment home or rent it to a credit worthy tenant.