January 29, 2017

Mired In A Deep Foreclosure Swamp

A report from the Longview News-Journal in Texas. “A sharp increase in foreclosures is blamed for causing the housing market in the Longview area to plummet to second from the bottom among 200 markets nationwide, according to a new home-value forecast. The spike in the foreclosure rate, to 34 percent in the final three months of 2016 from 8.84 percent a year earlier, was probably an impact of the slow recovery in the energy industry, said Tom Hoff, director of marketing for Pro Teck Valuation Services. He noted the bottom 10 markets in the report included four energy-producing areas. Pro Teck’s report shows the four-county Longview market dropping from near the middle in the final quarter of 2015 to next to Las Cruces, New Mexico, at the bottom of the bottom 10 of 200 markets by late 2016.”

“Jim Gaines, the Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University’s chief economist said it takes a couple of years to cycle through foreclosures, which might have led Pro Teck to determine the rate to be 34 percent. Gaines acknowledged the oil industry slump has hit the Longview area hard, but perhaps not as much as Midland and Odessa. Pro Teck’s report showed Midland ranking immediately above Longview. ‘The economic impact might have happened a year and a half ago,’ he said. ‘The decline in the price of oil started in mid-2015. It is not an immediate impact.’”

From Delaware Online. “Delaware had the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation last year, a recent study reported. The study also found overall foreclosure activity in Delaware jumped 45 percent last year compared to 2015, the largest increase of any state. Local experts said Delaware’s foreclosure crisis is the result of the state’s stagnant wages making it difficult for residents to keep up with mortgage payments. ‘We need more, better-paying jobs,’ said Eric Doroshow, a Wilmington attorney who specializes in consumer bankruptcy. ‘You see these families having two jobs and still struggling to get current on a mortgage. Chapter 13 [bankruptcy filings] gives them a chance, but at the end of the day they need more income.’”

“Lawyers are not the only ones noticing the increase in business because Delawareans are struggling to make their home payments. David Sordelet, a Wilmington real estate agent, said six of his 17 active listings are short sales. Sordelet agreed flat wages are hurting Delaware’s housing market. The state’s average annual household income dropped to about $57,000 in 2014 from $67,000 in 1999. Delaware was ranked ninth among the 10 worst states for household income growth. ‘We’ve lost jobs at Chrysler, General Motors, MBNA, DuPont, AstraZeneca,’ he said. ‘That has an effect on values.’”

“Sordelet said mortgage adjustment programs can be problematic, too. He said a recent client did a mortgage modification and attempted to sell her house to get out from under the mortgage. But when she came to the table, the buyer didn’t have enough money for the mortgage and all of the unpaid fees, interests and charges tacked on the back end of her mortgage because of the modification program. The buyer walked away and his client was forced to sell her house in a short sale.”

From New Jersey Spotlight in New Jersey. “Housing markets have improved and foreclosure numbers dropped across the country since the Great Recession, but a decade on, New Jersey remains mired in a deep foreclosure swamp. Some analyses cite Atlantic City as the worst housing market in the country, with Trenton not far behind. Overall, New Jersey continues to have the highest foreclosure rate in the country, according to real-estate data firms.”

“he Federal Housing Finance Agency has offered some continuing assistance to borrowers whose mortgages are insured through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The new ‘Flex Mod,’ flexible modification, program aims to provide reductions of up to 20 percent on mortgages that are 60 days’ delinquent, instead of waiting the traditional 90 days. Like previous foreclosure relief programs, though, Flex Mod may look good on paper without delivering in reality, said attorney Josh Denbeaux of Denbeaux and Denbeaux in Westwood. ‘The question about Flex Mod is not the regulations themselves, it’s whether they will be enforced,’ he said. ‘And the answer to that is no.’”

The Des Moines Register in Iowa. “In many ways, the metro Des Moines housing market has never been stronger. Home prices have reached record highs, and Polk County’s median home value has climbed to nearly $150,000. A wave of new homebuyers has prompted fast-paced sales. Bidding wars have broken out for homes in popular neighborhoods, where prices have surged more than 10 percent since the housing crash in 2008.”

“But Des Moines’ housing surge has left behind thousands of homeowners in poorer neighborhoods that have seen their home values fall as much as 13 percent — even as the economy rebounded, The Des Moines Register’s exclusive analysis of Polk County assessment data shows. In the Oak Park neighborhood on the city’s north side, Nicole Simpson and her husband have been trying to sell their house for more than five months so they can move to the Johnston school district. They like the quiet neighborhood where their children can play. And the home sits on a large, wooded lot on the east bank of the Des Moines River.”

“But the Simpsons couldn’t find a buyer and recently took the house off the market. Assessed values in the area have ticked up only 2 percent since the crash, the Register analysis shows. Several nearby homes have gone through foreclosure and were sold cheap or turned into rentals, which Simpson suspects has brought down property values. ‘It’s a nice place to raise a family,’ she said. ‘We just have the misfortune of having a few houses that are affecting it.’”

From KCWY in Wyoming. “As unemployment numbers remain high in Wyoming, many homeowners still struggle making their mortgage payments. The staff at Wyoming Housing Network has tracked a recent jump in foreclosures over the past four months. They told News 13 there are currently 134 foreclosures in progress across the state. Wyoming Housing Network Foreclosure Counselor, Beth Skidmore shared, ‘There are different things they (homeowners) can do if they can’t repay and they don’t have the ability to maintain the home, then we can help them with their credit and everything and see if we can figure out another situation for them.’”