Monday, June 22, 2009

Problematic Foreclosure Data

by Bill McBride on 6/22/2009 08:37:00 AM

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Foreclosure numbers don’t add up (ht Mark)

When the most frequently quoted source of foreclosure information released its April statistics, it estimated that 3,746 properties in metro Atlanta’s five core counties had been slapped with foreclosure sale notices.

But a review of local legal advertisements – the only official source of Georgia foreclosure information – suggested a decidedly different number for April, with 7,462 properties slated for auction on the courthouse steps.

What’s the right number? That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer.

At a time when an explosion in the number of distressed mortgage loans has emerged as the most pressing economic issue in decades, there is no official government source for foreclosure statistics.
RealtyTrac has faced questions for months about the reliability of its numbers.

An AJC review of the company’s data in 2007 prompted RealtyTrac to admit serious inaccuracies in Georgia. The company reported a 75 percent increase in foreclosures from June 2007 to July 2007, but later admitted errors and said the filings actually increased by 14 percent.
Some economists believe it’s time for the federal government to produce its own foreclosure statistics. And experts say many are kicking around ways to make that happen.

“Ideally we would have a national database of mortgage transactions,” said [Dan Immergluck, a Georgia Tech professor].
It is very frustrating trying to find reliable foreclosure data. I use a series from DataQuick in California (for Notice of Defaults) that goes back to the early '90s. But that is just one state, and just one step in the foreclosure process and doesn't tell us how many NODs are cured. Very frustrating.