Friday, March 16, 2012

Foreclosures—A story without end

by Maya Brennan, Center for Housing Policy

Every quarter when new data on serious mortgage delinquencies is released on, one of the challenges is that it rarely seems to change much. Florida? Still extremely high rates of extended mortgage delinquency and foreclosure. California? The Rust Belt? Still pretty hard hit. And the Memphis area keeps shifting back and forth—a little better for a quarter, then a little worse again. No clear movement or prognosis. The foreclosure crisis is less Homer’s Iliad—an epic tale where major developments pack every page—and more an unedited manuscript by an author with lots of ink but no idea of how to get to the denouement.

A quick look at the maps of metropolitan serious delinquency rates in September 2011 compared with September 2010 suggests that maybe the plot is moving along again. California is looking much better, although housing problems are far from resolved there yet. Arizona also seems to be improving. But these small positive steps aren’t universal. At least as of September, much of the country is still in a holding pattern. And a few areas, mainly in the Pacific Northwest, are starting to see rising serious delinquency rates as the foreclosure problems of the rest of the country finally reach them. Hope mixes with despair, and we clearly have several chapters left to go.

How much longer will it last? Even with a promising attorneys general settlement, I expect the answer is measured in years. Years in which we grow accustomed to historically high foreclosure rates and seriously delinquent mortgage rates being normal. Unremarkable. Not worth newsprint. Unless you are one of the millions of families at the heart of the story.


Donald Cotchen said...

Based on what I read from several construction industry economists single family housing starts are projected to increase markedly in 2013-14 and return to 2007 levels by 2015. How much of a negative effect will lingering delinquencies have on the national single family construction growth forecast?

Jillian O said...

Other research suggests that we aren't even half way through the foreclosure crisis, and can expect another 10-13 million over the next 4 years...See CRL's "Lost Ground, 2011: Disparities in Mortgage Lending and Foreclosures."