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Foreclosure Filings, Delinquencies Still Declining

Carrie Rossenfeld Residential & Mixed Use

Two Irvine, California–based research firms that focus on the housing market report positive trends in the industry. The trends on which CoreLogic and ATTOM Data Solutions report deal with the number of foreclosure filings and the number of mortgage delinquencies reported nationally, both of which are still declining on a year-over-year basis.

According to CoreLogic’s monthly Loan Performance Insights Report nationally, 4.9 percent of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure) in January 2018. This represents a 0.2 percentage-point decline in the overall delinquency rate, compared with January 2017 when it was 5.1 percent.

As of January 2018, the foreclosure inventory rate – which measures the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process – was 0.6 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from 0.8 percent in January 2017. Since August 2017, the foreclosure inventory rate has been steady at 0.6 percent, the lowest level since June 2007, when it was also 0.6 percent. The January 2018 foreclosure inventory rate was the lowest for the month of January in 11 years; it was also 0.6 percent in January 2007.

CoreLogic says measuring early-stage delinquency rates is important for analyzing the health of the mortgage market. To monitor mortgage performance comprehensively, CoreLogic examines all stages of delinquency, as well as transition rates, which indicate the percentage of mortgages moving from one stage of delinquency to the next.

The rate for early-stage delinquencies – defined as 30-59 days past due – was also down at 2 percent in January 2018, down from 2.3 percent in December 2017 and from 2.1 percent in January 2017. The share of mortgages that were 60-89 days past due in January 2018 was 0.8 percent, unchanged from December 2017 but up from 0.7 percent in January 2017. The serious delinquency rate – defined as 90 days or more past due, including loans in foreclosure – was 2.1 percent in January 2018, unchanged from December 2017 and down from 2.3 percent in January 2017. The January 2018 serious delinquency rate was the lowest for the month of January since January 2007, when it was 1.5 percent.

“The areas hit by last year’s hurricanes and wildfires are experiencing the ‘pig in a python’ effect on their local delinquency rates. Early-stage delinquencies have largely dropped back to normal, while serious delinquency remains elevated,” says Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “In hard-hit markets, like the Houston and Naples metro areas, serious delinquency is triple what it was before the hurricanes. And in the San Juan area of Puerto Rico, serious delinquency has quadrupled.”

Meanwhile, ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q1 2018 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report shows a total of 189,870 U.S. properties with a foreclosure filing during the first quarter of 2018, up 4 percent from the previous quarter but still down 19 percent from a year ago and 32 percent below the pre-recession average of 278,912 per quarter from Q1 2006 to Q3 2007. This represents the sixth consecutive quarter where U.S. foreclosure activity has been below its pre-recession quarterly average.

The report also shows a total of 74,341 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in March 2018, up 21 percent from an all-time low in the previous month but still down 11 percent from a year ago — the 30th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in U.S. foreclosure activity.

An analysis of foreclosure activity by loan origination year shows that 45 percent of all properties in foreclosure as of the end of the first quarter were tied to loans originated between 2004 and 2008, down from 50 percent as of the end of Q4 2017 and down from 51 percent as of the end of Q1 2017.

“Less than half of all active foreclosures are now tied to loans originated during the last housing bubble, one of several data milestones in this report showing that the U.S. housing market has mostly cleared out the backlog of bad loans that triggered the housing and financial crisis nearly a decade ago,” says Daren Blomquist, SVP at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Meanwhile, we are beginning to see early signs that some post-recession loan vintages are defaulting at a slightly elevated rate, a sign that some loosening of lending standards has occurred in recent years. Consequently, foreclosure starts are trending higher compared to a year ago in an increasing number of local markets — some of which are a bit surprising given the overall strength of housing in those markets.”

Foreclosure activity was below pre-recession levels in 56 percent of local markets during the first quarter. Twenty-two states posted first quarter foreclosure activity totals below their pre-recession averages, led by Colorado, Michigan, California, Nevada and Georgia. The Riverside-San Bernardino market was included in the list of major metros with a population of at least 1 million and foreclosure rates in the top-25 highest nationwide – that market came in at No. 20.