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Sunday, November 08, 2009

First American CoreLogic Economist: Decline in Distressed Inventory a "Mirage"

by Calculated Risk on 11/08/2009 09:16:00 AM

Matt Padilla has an interesting chart on REOs and delinquent loans in Orange County, California: Banks hold few foreclosures.

The chart shows the number of REOs (bank owned real estate) has dropped sharply while 90+ day delinquencies continue to increase. Although this chart is for Orange County, we are seeing the same dynamics in many areas across the county (declining REOs, rising delinquency rates).

Sam Khater, senior economist with First American CoreLogic gave Matt his view of why this is happening:

The reason REOs have declined is that flow of distressed properties into REO has been artificially restricted due to local, state and GSE foreclosure moratoria, loan modifications and servicer backlogs. This has led to a drop in the supply of REO properties, while at the same time sales (including REO sales) increased due to the artificially low rates and first-time homebuyer tax credits, which further depleted the supply of REOs. This dynamic has led to the rapid improvement in home prices over the last six to eight months.

However, the mortgage distress is high and rising as is evident by the 90+ day category, which means the pending supply is building up due to high levels of negative equity and rising unemployment. So we have a situation where at the back end (ie REOs) it appears as if it’s getting better, but it’s really a mirage as we know that the pending supply pipeline default (ie 90+ day DQs) is looming larger.
emphasis added
We have to be careful with the 90+ day delinquency data because that includes loans in the trial modification process. If many of these trial modifications are successful - and become permanent - the delinquency rate could drop sharply without a large increase in foreclosures. We should know much more in Q1 when many of the trial modifications end.