Risk Changes in Emerging Foreclosure Tide

Banks are expected to pick up the pace of foreclosures, which will send a new wave of these properties on the market soon, housing experts say. This anticipated “wave” will occur at a time when the housing market has been showing signs of strengthening in pockets across the country, they also note.

But this time around, the increase in foreclosures is expected to come from a different source — everyday home owners with low interest-rate mortgages, housing experts say.

Borrowers “with ordinary mortgages whose ability to meet payment have been hit by the hard economic times” will be the ones dominating the foreclosures in the next round, CNNMoney reports in a recent article.

The last time that foreclosures dramatically increased nationwide, they were dominated by borrowers who had subprime loans with high interest rates and loans in which banks often had asked for no money down or even proof of income. Since then, underwriting standards by lenders has gotten a lot stricter.

"The subprime stuff is long gone," says Michael Redman, founder of 4closurefraud.org. "Now the folks being affected are hardworking, everyday Americans struggling because of the economy."

While unemployment has seen improvement, recently falling to 8.3 percent from its 10 percent peak in 2009, many Americans still remain without a job and are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments. More than a quarter of home owners are considered “underwater,” owing more on their homes than they are currently worth, according to fourth quarter 2011 data from Zillow Inc.

"We're seeing more people coming through who have good loans with reasonable interest rates," says Ed Jacob, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago Inc., a non-profit that provides foreclosure counseling. "But in many households only one person works now instead of two, or they had their hours cut. The answer to the housing crisis now is job creation."

Experts Warn: It’s Coming ...
The signs of the next tide are already taking shape as banks set out to quicken the pace of reviewing backlogs of defaulting loans: Foreclosure starts soared 28 percent in January, according to Lender Processing Services’ report last month. RealtyTrac reported that while overall foreclosures saw a slight drop nationwide in February from January, 21 cities saw large spikes, such as Tampa (increasing 64 percent), Chicago (43 percent) and Miami (53 percent).

In previous reports, RealtyTrac has predicted that completed foreclosures will jump 25 percent this year and will likely reach 1 million in 2012.

Source: “New Foreclosure Wave to Hit ‘Everyday’ Borrowers,” Reuters (April 4, 2012)