Local real estate professionals rejected a new Yahoo Finance article that said Tucson has the sickest housing market in the United States.

Tucson came in at No. 1 on a list of "America's ten sickest housing markets," in a report by 24/7 Wall St. The ranking was based on a homeowner vacancy rate of 6.8 percent, a rental vacancy rate of 15.9 percent and an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.

"The city had a booming residential housing market before the crash," the article by 24/7 Wall St. said. "Since then, demand is so low that median home prices have dropped 18 percent in the past year and 33 percent since 2008."

Tucson also has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, the article said.

Real estate professionals said the ranking ignored important market indicators that show Tucson in a more positive light. Also, they pointed out that the top 10 list included no cities in Nevada, California or Florida, which are all states hit hard by the housing crash.

Phoenix, which RealtyTrac recently said has the second-highest foreclosure rate in the nation, also didn't make this list.

"The vacancy rate is just not a really good measuring device for judging the real estate market," said Rosey Koberlein, CEO of Long Companies.

Tucson has roughly four months of housing inventory, based on unit sales and active listings. A balanced market generally has six months of inventory, according to Long Realty's housing report.

In other markets, it will take much longer than it will in Tucson to work through the number of unsold, listed houses, Koberlein said.

While the median price for homes here has dropped considerably, Koberlein said that's due in large part to the market working through low-priced distressed properties. That bodes well for stabilization in the future, Koberlein said.

Greg Hollman, regional vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, said investors and first-time buyers purchasing bank-owned houses skew the price data downward.

Coldwell Bank has actually seen its number of sales increase here over the last year, he said.

"We're seeing multiple offers on properties," Hollman said. "In the sickest market in the country, I doubt you'd be seeing multiple offers."

Joe Snell, president and CEO of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, said the ranking confirms an ongoing need for the area to focus on job creation.

"We must continue to diversify our region's economy and work to create jobs that will result in increasing the demand for housing," Snell said. "Naturally that will help to absorb the current abundance of housing inventory."


The "10 sickest housing markets," according to Wall Street 24/7 on Yahoo Finance:

1. Tucson

2. Indianapolis

3. Memphis, Tenn.

4. Atlanta

5. Baton Rouge, La.

6. Dayton, Ohio

7. Detroit (tie)

7. Kansas City, Mo. (tie)

9. St. Louis

10. Oklahoma City

Contact reporter Dale Quinn at dquinn@azstarnet.com or 573-4197.