Delinquencies and Defaults Up, Up and Away

Delinquencies and defaults are on the rise, due mainly to a handful of circumstances, including the backlog from recent foreclosure moratoria, a jump in unemployment and even a slight rise in marital spats, according to data released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Tuesday. Since late November, Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) suspended foreclosure sales and evictions on owner- occupied properties. The suspensions, which ended on March 31, 2009, allowed servicers additional time to work with borrowers in foreclosure who were eligible for the Streamlined Modification Program. The impact of the suspensions caused completed foreclosure sales and third-party sales to decline 77% from the prior three-month average of 16,342 to 3,711 in December, and 79% to 3,391 in January, according to the FHFA’s latest foreclosure prevention report. At the same time, loans that were 60+ and 90+ days delinquent climbed. All loans 60+ days delinquent increased from 834,831 as of November 30 to 1,229,051 as of January 31, representing an increase of 47% over the period, the FHFA said. However, prime loans 60+ days delinquent increased by 69.6% while nonprime loans increased by a significantly lesser 23%. The number of foreclosure sales as a percentage of delinquencies dropped. Loans for which a foreclosure or third party sale was completed as a percent of loans 60+ days delinquent fell from 2.43% in October to 1.79% in November, 0.40% in December and 0.28% in January. The report, based on data from the GSEs’ 30.6m residential mortgages, also assessed the top reasons for default. It found that defaults, as of the end of January, were not largely due to mortgages being untenable, but to what the industry calls the “standard Ds” — death, divorce, disability and didn’t keep job. 34.1% of homeowners cited curtailment of income as the main cause of default, 19.8% reported excessive obligations, 8.1% said unemployment, 6.5% said illness and 3.5% cited marital difficulties, such as the loss of a spouse’s wages. In January 8,953 loan modifications were completed compared to 8,688 in December and the prior 3-month average of 7,926, the FHFA reported. This represents a 3 percent increase in loan modifications by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from December 2008 to January 2009. Of the modifications completed, 65.2% required an interest rate reduction and term extension, 19.5% a term extension only, and 5.3% an interest rate reduction only. Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments.

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