The Mortgage Corner

The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 7.09 percent of all loans outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012, the lowest level since 2008, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) National Delinquency Survey.

The delinquency rate includes loans that are at least one payment past due but does not include loans in the process of foreclosure. The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter was 3.74 percent, the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008, down 33 basis points from the third quarter and 64 basis points lower than one year ago.

“We are seeing large improvements in mortgage performance nationally and in almost every state.  The 30 day delinquency rate decreased 21 basis points to its lowest level since mid-2007. With fewer new delinquencies, the foreclosure start rate and foreclosure inventory rates continue to fall and are at their lowest levels since 2007 and 2008 respectively,”   said Jay Brinkmann, MBA’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research.

The foreclosure starts rate decreased by the largest amount ever in the MBA survey and now stands at half of its peak in 2009. Similarly, the 33 basis point drop in the foreclosure inventory rate is also the largest in the history of the survey.   

Brinkman said the two biggest factors impacting the number of loans in the foreclosure process still are the magnitude of the problem in Florida and the judicial foreclosure systems in some states.  12 percent of the mortgages in Florida are in the process of foreclosure, down from a peak of 14.5 percent last year but still an extraordinarily high rate that is impacting the national rate.  In addition, while the percentages of loans in foreclosure dropped in almost all states, the average rate for judicial states was 6.2 percent, triple the average rate of 2.1 percent for nonjudicial states.

And RealtyTrac reported foreclosure-related sales accounted for 21 percent of all U.S. residential sales during 2012, down from 23 percent of all sales in 2011 and down from 28 percent of all sales in 2010.

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Graph: RealtyTrac

Properties not in foreclosure that sold as short sales in 2012 accounted for an estimated 22 percent of all residential sales — bringing the total share of distressed sales to 43 percent including both foreclosure-related sales and non-foreclosure short sales.

California, Georgia, Nevada posted highest percentage of foreclosure sales in 2012. Foreclosure sales accounted for more than 38 percent of all residential sales in California in 2012, the highest percentage of any state but down from 44 percent of all sales in 2011 and down from 49 percent of all sales in 2010. California pre-foreclosure sales in 2012 increased 12 percent from 2011 while California REO sales decreased 27 percent over the same time period.

Home prices continue to recover, rising gradually. The FHFA price index for December for homes with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conventional mortgages gained 0.6 percent, following a rise of 0.4 percent the prior month. The December advance was led by the East South Central region, increasing 2.3 percent, with the Middle Atlantic region down 0.1 percent.

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Graph: Econoday

The year-on-year rate posted at plus 5.8 percent versus 5.4 percent in November.
The FHFA report combined this morning with a favorable Case-Shiller report, point to further progress in restoring home prices toward pre-recession levels. Much of the price rise comes from the decline in for sale inventories to a low 4 month supply at current sales rates for both new and existing-home sales.

And as the number of foreclosure and short sale transactions continue to decline, prices could rise even faster, further boosting the real estate recovery.

Harlan Green © 2013

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