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The Week Ahead: The Perpetual Foreclosure Free-Fall

Foreclosure Keys BHForeclosure- and default-related metrics have experienced lengthy, steady declines over the last six years since peaking in 2010 at the depth of the crisis. The industry is likely to see more of the same when CoreLogic releases its National Foreclosure Report for April 2016 this week on Tuesday, March 14.

Last month, CoreLogic reported that in March, seriously delinquent mortgages totaled just over 3 percent (1.2 million homes) while foreclosure inventory totaled just over 1 percent (427,000 homes). Both numbers in March were at their lowest level since 2007.

The major drivers of the decline have been tighter underwriting and lending standards, which has in turn resulted in fewer defaults, and home price appreciation and improved economic fundamentals have also played a role (May's weak jobs report notwithstanding).

Completed foreclosures—a true measure of homes lost to foreclosure—totaled 36,000 in March, which is 70 percent down from the peak of nearly 118,000 in September 2012 but still elevated above the pre-crisis monthly average of 21,000 from 2000 to 2006.

The number of completed foreclosures is likely to continue to drop as the backlog of homes in foreclosure inventory clears out (with some foreclosures taking years to complete) and the serious delinquency rate drops—the 36,000 completed foreclosures in March 2016 were a decline of about 6,000 from March 2015. Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, stated, “Longer term, as loans made since 2009 account for a larger share of outstanding debt, we anticipate that the serious delinquency rate will have further substantive declines.”

Federal Reserve—FOMC Meeting—Announcement Wednesday, June 15, 2 p.m. EST

Although the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) did not raise the federal funds rate at the April meeting, even with further improvement observed in the housing sector, there has been ongoing speculation about if the Fed would make a move at the next FOMC meeting which starts Tuesday, June 14, and wraps with the announcement of whether or not they will raise rates on Wednesday, June 15, at 2 p.m. EST.

Despite Fed signals and several industry economists pointing to a June increase after April's standstill, many have pulled back on those forecasts due to disappointing employment data.

The most recent employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the labor force participation rate fell by 20 basis points down to 62.6 percent and has fallen by 40 basis points over April and May to offset first-quarter gains, after hitting its lowest level since the 1970s in 2015. Not only did job gains total only 38,000 for May, but March and April totals were downwardly revised by a combined 59,000 jobs down to 186,000 and 123,000, respectively, making the average monthly job gain over the three-month period from March to May a less-than-stellar 116,000.

Economists in the mortgage industry also commented on how the employment numbers will affect the Fed's June decision.

“The employment data issued today is the weakest monthly job creation report since September 2010. This greatly diminishes the likelihood of the Federal Reserve raising rates in June, which would be a net positive for housing demand this spring,” Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said. “But diminishing job growth also raises concern about longer-term demand for housing later this year and into 2017. Although some of this decline could be temporary, the deceleration we are seeing in job creation will eventually impact the pace of household formation. Fewer households being formed will impact the demand for homes, both to rent and to buy.”

This week's schedule

Tuesday, June 14

National Foreclosure Report for April 2016, CoreLogic

Wednesday, June 15

Federal Open Market Committee Meeting Announcement, 2 p.m. EST

Thursday, June 16

National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, 10:00 A.M. EST

Friday, June 17

U.S. Census Bureau/HUD Housing Starts, 8:30 A.M. EST

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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