Realty Check

Home Foreclosures: Real Disclosure Over What's Going On

A home is advertised for sale at a foreclosure auction in Pasadena, California.
Reed Saxon

I want to address today’s report from RealtyTrac on the monthly foreclosure activity data, because I know there was a lot of criticism last month when we reported their really astonishing number--a year-over-year jump of 90% in foreclosure activity.

The number is pretty close this month, foreclosure activity up 87% from last year, although it did fall 7% month-to-month, but you’d expect that given last month’s huge jump.

Okay, now to the disclosure:RealtyTraccounts foreclosure filings, that is default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. It covers, according to the press release, 1 million properties from 2500 counties nationwide. Now, because this is foreclosure “activity,” a property could ostensibly be counted more than once (one default notice, one bank repossession, etc.) It is for this reason that I choose not to look at RealtyTrac’s actual number of foreclosures, but rather the year-over-year percentage increases and foreclosure rates, because these give you the most precise look into what’s going on.

Nevada, California and Colorado show the highest rates of foreclosure in the country, that is foreclosure per number of homes in the state. California, Florida and Ohio show the largest actual foreclosure totals, but you have to consider population in there.

I didn’t see anything particularly surprising in today’s report, California cities continue to dominate top metro foreclosure rates, big shock there. Las Vegas showed the fifth highest metro foreclosure rate.

A bright spot though for these ten states:

They actually show year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity. I’m surprised at Illinois, so if any of you have any thoughts on that, please do share them with me:

I spoke with the chief economist at Standard & Poors yesterday, and he thinks we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of foreclosures. Mark Zandi at economy.comsays 2 million adjustable rate loans will reset this year--$50 billion worth in October alone.

I did a bunch of local live shots for some NBC affiliates yesterday, and the local anchors kept asking, “How can people avoid foreclosure???” Well, call the lender, I said. A lot of lenders are writing in telling me how they’re aggressively trying to refinance people in default before they get to foreclosure. The trouble is, too many people don’t bother to call. One local anchor asked if foreclosure is just the easy way out for some speculator investors--especially the ones with the no-money-down mortgages. I wonder.

Questions?  Comments?