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Forbearance Volumes Steadily Decline

After a significant improvement last week, forbearance numbers did not change much in the past week, "barely perceptible," according to the researchers at Black Knight, who have been releasing COVID-19 related mortgage forbearance stats every Friday since near the onset of the pandemic.

While that could seem like a letdown, the Black Knight team explained that "it’s important to remember that this is more indicative of a well-documented mid-month lull in activity than any underlying weakness in the recovery."

Plus Tuesday to Tuesday marks week seven of declining forbearance plan volumes, which, Black Knight's researchers say, is "a positive trend no matter how you look at it."

More specifically, the number of active plans dropped by 1,000 from last Tuesday, a .04% decline that one could round down to 0%, although it is not nothing.

"These mid-month lulls in improvement have been commonplace during the recovery, with the strongest rates of improvement coming early and late in the month as mortgages are reviewed for extension/removal from forbearance. In fact, plan exits fell to their lowest level in seven weeks as servicers found themselves in between March and April expiration volumes," reported Black Knight. 

Starts hit their highest level in three weeks, but that was primarily due to re-starts, as a portion of the nearly half million homeowners who’d left forbearance in recent weeks likely reached out to their servicers to reinstate their plans. New-plan starts remain near post-pandemic lows, according to the researchers.

Some 380,000 active plans have end-of-April expirations, so there remains the possibility for further improvement for the month.

"Either way," Black Knight's authors wrote, "we'll have a better picture of what the coming months might look like once those 380,000 are processed."

Compared to last month at this time, the number of active plans is down by 296,000 or 11.4%, which the experts at Black Knight call a "pretty considerable improvement."

As of this past Tuesday 2.3 million homeowners remain in COVID-19-related forbearance plans.

That's 4.4% of all mortgage holders in the country.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others.
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