The Half-Truth Of The Headline “1 In 8 U.S. Homes Are Late Paying Or In Foreclosure”

USA Today ran this 2008 Foreclosures By State heatmap last week, reminding us of a simple truth: Headline statistics can be misleading.

According to data compiled by RealtyTrac, 1 in 8 U.S. homes were in various stages of default or delinquency at the end of 2008.  This is a fact and it was widely reported by the press. 

However, as the heatmap plainly shows, in stripping out just 35 of the nation’s 3,232 counties, we can decrease the number of foreclosures nationally by half

In other words, yes, 1 in 8 U.S. homes face mortgage trouble.  In your neighborhood, though, the ratio is likely much, much lower.  Real estate is a local phenomenon.  National statistics rarely apply.