Foreclosure Trends – December 2009

Well it seems that the Foreclosure ‘crisis’ is still with us. Particularly if you live in Florida. Florida, eeked past California in December to earn the dubious distinction of being the most prolific state in the Union it terms of the number of properties entering into the foreclosure process. According to RealtyTrac (one of the Nation’s leading authorities on the foreclosure process and short sales), in November, Florida had 32,276 properties enter the foreclosure process (often called pre-foreclosure) while only the comparable number for California was 30,071. Nationally, however, things may seem to be a bit better as, for the first time in many months, preforeclosure activity dropped below 350,000. Within Florida, Miami-Dade still leads the way with over 7,300 foreclosure filings of some sort in November. The next five most prolific counties in Florida are: Broward; Orange; Lee; Palm Beach and Hillsborough county (Tampa Bay Area).While the National trend my suggest a somewhat more positive outlook for things to come, there are still many who feel that there is a lot of ‘shaking out’ left and that 2010 may yet still see unprecedented amounts of homeowner distress, Preforeclosure, Foreclosure activity. One such analyst is RealtyTrac CEO, James Saccacio, who says that a longer term recovery may be more elusive. Specifically mentioned are the troublesome employment trends. Mr. Saccacio believes that the true turnaround will only become evident when unemployment decreases become solid and sustained.Others are voicing concern over the coming reset of teaser rate and option ARM mortgages. In those lending products, homeowners were often offered low interest rate loans (often 1% or lower) at origination of the Loan. In reality, these products were often true ‘market rate’ loans of 5-6% when they were written. To get to the teaser 1% rates, the difference between the actual amount of interest accrued and the amount of interest paid was simply rolled into and thereby increased the principal balance of the loan. At the time these loans were written, housing value growth in many areas of the country was exceeding 5-7%, more than covering the increase in principal relative to the value of the house. With the crash of the housing market and the resultant decline in home value, many of the teaser rate homes have gone substantially underwater. Adding to the impending problem is that many of those who took advantage of these loan products either did not understand the real risk of the loans ‘resetting’ at substantially higher payment levels or they were small business owners who, while doing well financially at the time of the loan origination, have fallen on ‘hard times’ economically and are not able to make the payments at the new higher levels. Several economic experts have voiced concern over the reset of these mortgage and there is a good deal of fear in the industry that this particular issue may prolong and in fact worsen the mortgage problems that will be seen in 2010.The result? More distressed homeowners; more preforeclosure activity; and more foreclosure courthouse sales. In order to escape from the perils of foreclosure, more and more homeowners are opting to pursue an exit strategy of a Short Sale. In this process, whether the Seller participates with an Investor or a Realtor, the house is sold for less than what is owed after a successful negotiation with the lender. Growing in popularity, Short Sales are now accounting for nearly 25% of all Real Estate Transactions in Hillsborough County. Many anticipate the trend of Short Sales to continue to increase.

Comments are closed.