From the LA times comes another article about the coming foreclosure wave. I sure as hell hope it hurries up.
Mortgage defaults have surged to record levels amid rising unemployment and falling home prices. Lenders are expected to move quickly to clear up backlogs as moratoriums on foreclosures expire.
Reporting from Washington -- Just as the nation's housing market has begun showing signs of stabilizing, another wave of foreclosures is poised to strike, possibly as early as this summer, inflicting new punishment on families, communities and the still-troubled national economy.
Amid rising unemployment and falling home prices, mortgage defaults have surged to record levels this year. Until recently, many banks have put off launching foreclosure action on the troubled properties, in part because they had signed up for the Obama administration's home-stability plan, which required them to consider the alternative of modifying loans to make it easier for borrowers to make payments.
Just how big the foreclosure wave will be is unclear. But loan defaults are up sharply. And with many government and banks' self-imposed foreclosure moratoriums expiring, the biggest lenders indicate that they are likely to move more aggressively to clear up a backlog of troubled mortgages.
But rising foreclosures will depress home values, pushing more homeowners underwater. Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com estimates that 15.4 million homeowners -- or about 1 in 5 of those with first mortgages -- owe more on their homes than they are worth.
The rapid pace of layoffs is of particular concern. Employers shed nearly a half-million jobs in June. Homeowners who are out of work have little chance of having their mortgages modified. That puts many homeowners on a collision course with banks that are preparing to take a more aggressive stance.
"Absolutely," Chase Bank spokesman Tom Kelly said when asked about an impending surge in foreclosures. Since April 6, Chase has approved modifying 138,000 loans under Obama's program. But an undisclosed number of other Chase borrowers didn't meet modification eligibility, and many of those homeowners face possible foreclosure.
Bank of America, the nation's largest servicer of home mortgages, also did not release the volume of likely foreclosures. The bank said it had extended offers to modify loans to more than 45,000 borrowers under the Obama plan. Bank of America spokesman Dan Frahm said the company was projecting a "slow increase" in the number of monthly foreclosures, potentially reaching 30% above previous normal levels.
Much will depend on how quickly lenders can push the process along. It generally takes three months to a year from the time a borrower receives a notice of default to a foreclosure sale, in which case the lender usually takes title to the property.
Government and company reports show that the number of completed foreclosures nationwide slowed sharply late last year and into early this year, largely because of various moratoriums in effect during much of the first quarter.
But anecdotal reports indicate that foreclosure sales have started to climb again in the second quarter. And the pipeline is clearly getting fuller.
California accounts for an outsized share of mortgage loan defaults. A stunning 135,431 homeowners in the state were hit with notices of default in the first quarter, an increase of 11% from the earlier peak in the second quarter of 2008, according to real estate information service MDA DataQuick. Foreclosure sales in the state have been moderating after averaging a high of 26,500 a month last summer.
But just recently, said the 37-year real estate veteran, there's been a surge of requests for so-called broker price opinions, or appraisals that lenders often ask brokers to provide just before they put a foreclosed property on the market.
"I think it's going to be a very big wave," he said. "Just like what we saw through 2008."