An Update on Home Foreclosures

Lately, very few things have been in the news more than the topic of home foreclosures. Depending on the source, it is estimated there have been over 4 million homes entering foreclosure over the past four years and about 300,000 are entering the first stage monthly.

Recently the attention has turned from the sheer volume of foreclosures to the procedural flaws in foreclosing that are threatening lenders’ rights to foreclose because legal "ownership" of the mortgage may not be readily determined or because paperwork related to foreclosing was improperly executed.

The net result is that several major lenders have announced a moratorium on their foreclosure process to allow them time to review their documentation and to determine that they can legitimately move forward.

This means that the natural flow of homes through the pipeline is interrupted. Instead of having a predictable timeline, buyers must sit in limbo with respect to the actual availability of a particular home for purchase.

Except for the national attention and anxiety caused by the media saturation of this issue, the real economic effect will likely be very localized and concentrated. In communities with a large number of foreclosures where the mortgages on those homes are owned by lenders who are temporarily halting the process, it means those homes can’t go on the market. So in turn, the decline in the amount of inventory being offered for sale could result in an increase on home prices in that area, until the foreclosure freeze is thawed out.

However as a national economic issue, the overall impact will probably not have a measureable or lasting effect on the housing market. That assumes, of course, that lenders move expeditiously to determine their ownership and identify steps necessary to deal with the process and documentation problem – such as, resuming the foreclosure process or indentifying loan modifications and workouts.

I will continue to monitor this situation very closely, and would encourage you to call or email me so we can discuss what this might mean to you.


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