Real Estate: Which Is America’s Richest State?

Chamborg CastleCalifornia has Hollywood, Rhode Island has Newport, Texas has Dallas and New York has Manhattan, but which is the richest state?

If you’re thinking none of the above you’re on the right track. The real answer, the answer that’s on the money, is Maryland.

Huh? Maryland? Whoever heard of the Maryland Rockefellers? And if Maryland is so rich how come it’s third in foreclosures?

But, actually, it’s true. Maryland is our richest state. And yes, it does have a foreclosure problem.

Richest State With Millionaires

A new study by Phoenix Marketing International says Maryland has more millionaires per capita than another other state. When we look at households with at least $1 million in investable capital we find that 7.7 percent of Maryland households qualify. That compares well with New York (5.79%), California (6.04%), Ohio (4.412%) and Louisiana (4.49%). In last place is Mississippi at 3.63 percent.

Why Maryland? Well, Maryland sits on one of the largest bays in the world. It has beaches, farms and mountains. It has the City of Baltimore, historic Annapolis, rural areas near the famous Antietam battlefield, farms in the eastern and southern parts of the state and vast forests in the west. It includes Andrews Air Force Base, Ft. Meade, and the Aberdeen Test Center. It’s the world’s largest biological and medical research center and includes the National Institutes of Health, the Federal Drug Administration and the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. It is also — arguably — the world’s largest computing center — think of the National Security Agency in Laurel.

Richest State By Household Wealth

With a typical household income of $71,221 Marylanders are doing better than everyone else. In comparison, California ranks 11th ($58,328 per household), Texas is 24th ($50,740) and Mississippi is 50th ($37,095).

Where do Marylanders get so much money? First, they have a very low unemployment rate, just 6.4 percent in November. Second, the economic base is very strong, with many jobs in health, law, computing and government. Third, income is relatively well-distributed — only 9.9 percent of all Maryland households are at or below the poverty level.

Richest State and Foreclosures

If Maryland is doing so well why does it have so many foreclosures? According to RealtyTrac, Maryland ranks first in the nation for foreclosures starts, up 194 percent in December 2013 when compared with a year earlier.

Huh? If the Maryland economy is so great why are there so many foreclosures?

The answer works like this:

To foreclosure in Maryland — a judicial foreclosure state — one has to have the mortgage note to have standing in a court case. But what if the note did not mention the loan owner seeking the foreclosure, and what if the note had been bought and sold in a string of electronic transactions? Could the lender still seek a foreclosure?

Such questions began to arise at the end of 2010. It was only in March 2013 with a decision in a key case — Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., Trustee v. Brock — that the issue was finally settled. Represented by the law firm of Ballard Spahr, the lenders won. They could foreclose.

Meanwhile, with the case outstanding as it wound its way through the court system, foreclosures in Maryland slowed and in many cases stopped. But with the decision made, lenders began to re-open foreclosure efforts which had been on hold. The result was a torrent of 2013 foreclosure actions in the nation’s wealthiest state, not because of a sudden increase in unemployment or because the local economy stalled, rather the reason for Maryland’s foreclosure surge was that the wheels of justice once again began to grind ahead.

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