Black Knight Financial Services released its latest Mortgage Monitor Report, looking at data as of the end of February, 2014. The company reported that origination activity has declined, but real estate sales have remained strong due in part to investor activity. Non-distressed sales were up almost 15 percent, as the share of distressed sales continued to decrease. Black Knight found that foreclosure sales hit the lowest levels since 2007, and with fewer loans in the foreclosure process, the company projects foreclosure numbers will continue to decline further.
Credit standards have shown little signs of easing, according to Black Knight. Only about 30 percent of loans in 2013 went to borrowers with credit scores below 720. The company believes that a significant opportunity exists to expand mortgage origination activity in the population of borrowers with lower credit scores. The total delinquency rate was 5.97 percent, falling below 6 percent for the first time since 2008. The delinquency rate declined by 4.87 percent on a month over month basis.
The National Association of Home Builders delivered some good news: 59 of 350 metro markets have returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, according to the association's Leading Markets Index. The national average is running at 88 percent, with 11 metros gained year-over-year. Strong employment and the upcoming spring season are fueling consumer confidence, with both analysts and homebuilders agreeing that 2014 will be a strong year for housing, releasing pent-up demand.