Tag Archives: repossess

Foreclosure backlogs persist

The improving job market and economy is helping push mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure starts down, but the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process remains stubbornly high, especially in states most affected by robo-signing issues, according to a quarterly survey of lenders by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Since peaking at 10.1 percent in March 2010, the percentage of borrowers behind on their house payments has fallen to a seasonally adjusted 7.6 percent at the end of 2011 — about halfway to the pre-recession average of roughly 5 percent, said MBA Chief Economist Jay Brinkmann.

The percentage of loans entering the foreclosure process — which before the downturn averaged just under 0.5 percent — has also declined, from a peak of 1.4 percent at the end of third-quarter 2009 to 1 percent at the end of fourth-quarter 2011.

But at 4.4 percent, the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of 2011 was not far off the all-time high of 4.6 percent seen at the end of 2010. That compares to the long-term norm of roughly 1.2 percent.

Robo-signing issues — which lenders hope to put behind them this year as they implement recently announced settlement with state attorneys general — have created foreclosure backlogs.

While foreclosure starts are falling, it’s taking loan servicers longer to auction off or repossess homes once they enter the foreclosure process, particularly in states where courts oversee the process.

In “judicial foreclosure” states where courts handle most foreclosures, 6.8 percent of mortgages were in foreclosure at the end of 2011. In “nonjudicial” foreclosure states where most foreclosures are processed outside of the court system, loan servicers are clearing the backlog more quickly, and 2.8 percent of mortgages were in foreclosure.

The MBA survey covers 42.9 million loans on one- to four-unit residential properties, or about 88 percent of all first-lien mortgages. Extrapolating the survey’s results suggests that of the 48.75 million mortgages outstanding at the end of 2011, 2.13 million were in the foreclosure process.

Five states accounted for more than half of all loans in foreclosure — Florida, California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. All but California are judicial foreclosure states.

The 10 states with the greatest percentage of mortgages in foreclosure were: Florida (14.27 percent), New Jersey (8.21 percent), Illinois (7.41 percent), Nevada (7.03 percent), Maine (5.92 percent), New York (5.88 percent), Connecticut (5.05 percent), Hawaii (4.97 percent), Ohio (4.94 percent), and Indiana (4.94 percent). All but Nevada are judicial foreclosure states.

The states with the lowest foreclosure rates were: Wyoming (1.03 percent), North Dakota (1.05 percent), Alaska (1.06 percent), Nebraska (1.55 percent), South Dakota (1.75 percent), Montana (1.76 percent), Texas (1.78 percent), Virginia (1.84 percent), Alabama (1.94 percent), and Arkansas (1.97 percent). Among those states, only North Dakota handles foreclosures judicially.

How to take advantage of a short sale

If you’re shopping for a home with a bargain-basement price, a short sale could be the answer.

This is where a lender allows borrowers who can’t keep up with the mortgage payments to sell their home
for less than they owe on the property. The bank or mortgage company takes whatever you pay to purchase
the home and forgives the remaining debt.
Short Sale
How low can you go and still expect a lender to approve the deal?

Lenders usually will accept offers that net at least 82% (after expenses) of the home’s  current fair market value, regardless of what the borrower owes, says Tim Harris, co-founder of Harris Real Estate University in Las Vegas.

Why would a lender do that?

Because it will lose less by allowing a short sale than by going through a foreclosure.

Taking advantage of a short sale is less risky than buying a foreclosure, because so many repossessed homes need tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs. The worst of the bunch have been deliberately vandalized by angry owners just before they were evicted.

Here are 4 smart moves for buying a short sale property:

Smart move 1. Make sure you’re a good candidate for a short sale.

Short sales are all about presenting the lender with a deal it can’t refuse. Banks and mortgage servicing
companies are most likely to approve buyers that:

•  Have a substantial down payment.

•  Have been preapproved for a mortgage.

•  Place no contingencies on their contract, such as having to sell their current home before
proceeding with the purchase.

Smart move 2. Hire a real estate agent who’s experienced in short sales.

You need someone who can steer you away from short sales that aren’t likely to succeed.

Vincent Bindi, a real estate broker for ShortSalesASAP in Orange County, Calif., says your real estate agent should interview the listing agent to determine whether the seller has done everything that’s needed to win lender approval.

You need to know whether the home has been aggressively marketed — the bank won’t like it if the seller hasn’t made a good-faith effort to get a reasonable bid — and whether the bank has received a broker’s price opinion, which it will use to determine the home’s market value.

Smart move 3. Offer the right price.

Short sales aren’t the time or place to do a lot of dickering.

Lenders don’t have the time or staff to evaluate an endless bunch of bids, each a little higher than the last. If you deliberately lowball a bank or mortgage company, it will just write you off as a waste of time.

You need to come up with a cheap but reasonable offer, which the bank or mortgage company will accept, in one try.

Start by estimating the fair market value of the home for yourself, using comps (values of comparable properties that have sold near the home in the past few months).

Take the condition of the home into account and reduce your estimate if the home needs repairs. It’s a buyer’s market, and you don’t have to treat a fixer-upper like it’s in pristine condition.

Calculate 82% of the home’s value, throw in a few thousand dollars to cover the lender’s cost of doing a short sale (ask your agent what that typically is for your area), and you have a good starting point.

Now look at the quality of your comps.

If they’re straightforward deals, and the homes spent at least three or four months on the market, then you’re good to go.

But if all of the comps are foreclosures that sold within a few weeks of hitting the market, you’ve got to assume those were damaged homes being dumped at fire sale prices.

You’ll have to adjust your offer upward, perhaps all the way to the full fair market value calculated with those comps.

Check how close your offer is to the asking price on the home. Remember, the sellers won’t get any of the money, so they have no incentive to demand an unreasonable price.

They’re just trying to find a price you’ll pay, and the bank will accept, to relieve them of their debt.

If you’re close, then you’ve probably come to the same conclusions as the sellers and their real estate
agent.

If not, then your agent needs to have another talk with their agent to find out why.

Smart move 4. Be patient.

It almost always takes longer to close a short sale, because it takes so long for lenders to review and accept
your proposal.

We’ve heard of deals closing in as little as five weeks when the lender has preapproved the short sale and asking price and you agree to meet that price.

But that rarely happens.

Most sellers don’t seek the lender’s approval for a short sale until they have a signed purchase contract in hand. (Here’s a step-by-step look at what sellers must do to complete a short sale.)

More often than not, it takes two to four months to get a “yes” or “no” from the bank or mortgage servicing company.

Although lenders say they’re trying to process these requests more quickly, there still aren’t enough loss mitigation specialists to deal with the rising demand for short sales, and we’re not seeing a big improvement.

By Bonnie Biafore  |  Interest.com Contributing Editor