ROCKFORD (WIFR) – National newspapers gave the Rockford area quite a bit of attention over the weekend.
We’ll start first with the Wall Street Journal which called Rockford the underwater mortgage capital of America.
We spoke with Steve Bois, the head of the Rockford Association of Realtors this afternoon to get his perspective. He didn’t have an exact number of how many homes are underwater in the area, but said that number is dropping.
An underwater mortgage is any mortgage where the homeowner owes more on their property than it is currently worth. According to the article, 32% of mortgages in Rockford are underwater, the highest percentage in the country. Bois doesn’t argue with that but he believes the growth of our aerospace industry, the improvement in our schools and other ongoing improvements in the region will help turn this stat around.
"It's not where you are today, its where are you going and how are you going to get there,” Bois said. “What I'm telling you is, what I'm in this community based on my volunteer work and the boards that I sit on, we are heading in the right direction. Am I disputing the WSJ article, no. But it’s not painting the true story. It’s just painting one chapter."
Bois says he was interviewed for the article in the WSJ but he’s not mentioned anywhere. Mayor Morrissey was quoted and we will get his take on the piece tonight at 10.
The realtors reported last month there were 400 homes sold in the Rockford area, something Bois says is helping to improve the overall housing market.
The Chicago Tribune is also weighing in on Rockford’s reputation. In his page-long spread, the author, Gregory Karp asked if Rockford could redefine itself on the wings of the aviation industry. We’ve heard it before, no airplane being made today flies without at least one part made in the area. That’s because we have the sixth highest concentration of aerospace production in the country. Karp also touted Woodward’s $300 million dollar expansion as Rockford’s biggest victory in years.