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Understanding The News: Home Prices Still Declining

*Home Prices Still On The Decline*
**Data And Analtics**

***More bad news for home prices. CoreLogic has released its November Home Price Index (HPI) report, which shows that home prices in the U.S. decreased 1.4 percent on a month-over-month basis, the fourth consecutive monthly decline. According to the CoreLogic HPI, national home prices, including distressed sales, also declined by 4.3 percent on a year-over-year basis in November 2011 compared to November 2010. Here’s what else the reports says:
****This news follows a decline of 3.7 percent in October 2011 compared to October 2010, according to CoreLogic. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices declined by 0.6 percent in November 2011 compared to November 2010 and by 1.6 percent in October 2011 compared to October 2010. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned transactions.
****“With one month of data left to report, it appears that the healthy, non-distressed market will be very modestly down in 2011. Distressed sales continue to put downward pressure on prices, and is a factor that must be addressed in 2012 for a housing recovery to become a reality,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.
****Highlights of the report include:
****>> Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were:  Vermont (+4.3 percent), South Carolina (+2.8 percent), District of Columbia (+2.1 percent), Nebraska (+1.9 percent) and New York (+1.7 percent).
****>> Including distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Nevada (-11.2 percent), Illinois (-9.7 percent), Minnesota (-7.8 percent), Georgia (-7.7 percent) and Ohio (-7.2 percent).>> Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: Maine (+4.9 percent), South Carolina (+4.9 percent), Montana (+3.8 percent), Indiana (+3.3 percent) and Louisiana (+2.4 percent).
****>> Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Nevada (-8.8 percent), Arizona (-4.9 percent), Minnesota (-4.7 percent), Idaho (-4.1 percent) and Georgia (-3.6 percent).
****>> Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to November 2011) was -32.8 percent.  Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -23.1 percent.
****>> Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 77 are showing year-over-year declines in November, three fewer than in October.

Understanding The News: The 411 On Mortgage Fraud Trends

*The 411 On Mortgage Fraud Trends*
**Trends And Analysis**

***According to a report by CoreLogic, the fraud picture is mixed. The report says the industry’s overall fraud risk appears to have stabilized. After a 20% increase in 2009, the CoreLogic Fraud Index, an indicator of the relative level of fraud risk for the mortgage industry, remained relatively flat throughout 2010 and the early part of 2011. The level of fraud in mortgage originations for 2010 is estimated at $12 billion. Early indications based on the Fraud Index show that this trend is continuing for 2011.

****Based on lower projected 2011 origination volumes and continuing flat fraud levels, CoreLogic estimates that for 2011, the mortgage industry will experience $7.4 billion in U.S. residential mortgage origination fraud. This 2011 estimate is approximately 75 percent below 2005 levels. This is due primarily to lower loan origination volumes and reduced risk tolerances evidenced by tighter lending criteria.

****Examining the data by fraud type reveals several areas of concern despite the generally flat overall Fraud Index. This analysis is made possible by a newly created Alert Risk Index system from CoreLogic through which additional risk patterns can be observed. The rate of property fraud grew more than 250 percent in the last year, while identity fraud decreased significantly. When we evaluate the movement in the individual Alert Risk Indices, additional risk patterns can be observed. For example, the primary reason for the increase in the property fraud risk index is potential fraudulent flipping and flopping of properties.

****“The overall level of fraud is down substantially,” noted Dave Johnson, vice president, product line manager of Fraud and Consortium Solutions at CoreLogic. “That is the case because origination volume is down and lending standards are tightening. Fraudsters are realizing that this is not the easiest place to go so you’re left with just what I call professional fraudsters. Also refinances are a more secure loan product and refinancing is about 75% today.

****“However, what we’re also seeing is a new mix of fraud. For example, valuation has become more artful because of the level of distressed properties,” Johnson continued. “It’s not just a visual inspection anymore because the house down the block may look the same as mine but the financial situation of that house and homeowner is very different. Fraud is never static.”

****Distressed sales remain a source of significant risk. It is estimated that unrealized recoveries on suspicious short sale transactions may be costing lenders as much as $375 million per year. Unscrupulous investors, unethical real estate agents and other fraudulent loan actors in the mortgage application process are targeting distressed borrowers and arranging same day flips through the foreclosure and short sale processes. With the volumes of distressed real estate and rate of suspicious flip transactions continuing at near-record levels, lenders are being forced to cope with more of these risky transactions where information related to other potential offers is intentionally withheld. Most of the suspicious flip transactions appear to be well executed events with investment company buyers responsible for a disproportionate percentage of the risky transactions.

Market Analysis: What Do We Really Know About Shadow Inventory?

*What Do We Really Know About Shadow Inventory?*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Estimates about how large the shadow inventory is and how long it will take to dispose of vary. What we know for sure is that the inventory is huge and it will put a crimp in industry recovery for some time. PROGRESS in Lending has learned that according to CoreLogic, the current residential shadow inventory as of October 2011 remained at 1.6 million units, representing a supply of 5 months. This was down from October 2010, when shadow inventory stood at 1.9 million units, or 7-months’ supply, but approximately the same level as reported in July 2011.  Currently, the flow of new seriously delinquent loans into the shadow inventory has been offset by the roughly equal flow of distressed (short and real estate owned) sales. Here’s what else the CoreLogic research revealed:

****CoreLogic estimates the current stock of properties in the shadow inventory, also known as pending supply, by calculating the number of distressed properties not currently listed on multiple listing services (MLSs) that are seriously delinquent (90 days or more), in foreclosure and real estate owned (REO) by lenders. Transition rates of “delinquency to foreclosure” and “foreclosure to REO” are used to identify the currently distressed non-listed properties most likely to become REO properties. Properties that are not yet delinquent but may become delinquent in the future are not included in the estimate of the current shadow inventory. Shadow inventory is typically not included in the official metrics of unsold inventory.

****Data Highlights:

****>> As of October 2011, shadow inventory remained at 1.6 million units, or 5-months’ supply and represented half of the 3 million properties currently seriously delinquent, in foreclosure or in REO.

****>> Of the 1.6 million properties currently in the shadow inventory (Figures 1 and 2), 770,000 units are seriously delinquent (2.5-months’ supply), 430,000 are in some stage of foreclosure (1.4-months’ supply) and 370,000 are already in REO (1.2-months’ supply).

****>> Florida, California and Illinois account for more than a third of the shadow inventory. The top six states, which would also include New York, Texas and New Jersey, account for half of the shadow inventory.

****>> The shadow inventory is approximately four times higher than its low point (380,000 properties) at the peak of the housing bubble in mid-2006.  A healthy housing market should have less than one-month’s supply of shadow inventory, which would be an easily absorbed stock of distressed assets with little or no discernable impact on house prices, unless the inventory was geographically concentrated.

****>> Despite 3 million distressed sales since January 2009, a period when home prices were declining at their fastest rate, the shadow inventory in October 2011 is at the same level as January 2009.

****>> Because shadow inventory is often concentrated in suburban and exurban submarkets, where distressed sales compete with new construction sales, it is one of the reasons why new home sales continue to be weak. In normal times, new home sales account for 12 percent of all sales, but they are currently running at 7 percent of all sales.

****>> Based on current estimates of the visible inventory (both distressed and non-distressed), the shadow inventory is approximately half of all visible inventory listings. For every two homes available for sale, there is one home in the “shadows” (Figure 3).

****“The shadow inventory overhang is a large impediment to the improvement in the housing market because it puts downward pressure on home prices, which hurts home sales and building activity while encouraging strategic defaults,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Market Analysis: Here’s Why We Need To Automate

*Here’s Why We Need To Automate*
**By Tony Garritano**

***I always preach about the benefits of automation. But I preach a lot. My kids say I’m a broken record when I talk to them about the value of doing well in school, for example. However, when it comes to automation, and the value of a good education, I’m right on both accounts and the data backs me up. PROGRESS in Lending has been told that CoreLogic released its October Home Price Index (HPI) which shows that home prices in the U.S. decreased 1.3 percent on a month-over-month basis, the third consecutive monthly decline. Let’s face it: with home prices continuing to decline lenders need to automate to be as efficient as possible and also to offer first-class service. Here’s what else the HPI found:

****According to the CoreLogic HPI, national home prices, including distressed sales, also declined by 3.9 percent on a year-over-year basis in October 2011 compared to October 2010. This follows a decline of 3.8 percent in September 2011 compared to September 2010. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices declined by 0.5 percent in October 2011 compared to October 2010 and by 2.1 percent in September 2011 compared to September 2010. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

****“Home prices continue to decline in response to the weak demand for housing. While many housing statistics are basically moving sideways, prices continue to correct for a supply and demand imbalance. Looking forward, our forecasts indicate flat growth through 2013,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

****Highlights as of October 2011:

****>> Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were:  West Virginia (+4.8 percent), South Dakota (+3.1 percent), New York (+3.0 percent), District of Columbia (+2.4 percent) and Alaska (+2.1 percent).

****>> Including distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Nevada (-12.1 percent), Illinois (-9.4 percent), Arizona (-8.1 percent), Minnesota (-7.9 percent) and Georgia (-7.3 percent).

****>> Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: South Carolina (+4.6 percent), Maine (+3.1 percent), New York (+3.1 percent), Alaska (+2.9 percent) and Kansas (+2.8 percent).

****>> Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Nevada (-8.8 percent), Arizona (-7.0 percent), Minnesota (-5.7 percent), Delaware (-3.9 percent) and Georgia (-3.6 percent).

****>> Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to October 2011) was -32.0 percent.  Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -22.4 percent.

****>> Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 78 are showing year-over-year declines in October, two fewer than in September.

****If this data doesn’t scream out: “This industry needs to automate!” I don’t know what it will take to get this idea across.

Market Analysis: Negative Equity Situation Still Bad

*Negative Equity Situation Still Looks Bad*
**By Tony Garritano**

***I’m always looking to share good data and research with you. PROGRESS has learned that CoreLogic released negative equity data showing that 10.7 million, or 22.1 percent, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity at the end of the third quarter of 2011. This is down slightly from 10.9 million properties, or 22.5 percent, in the second quarter. An additional 2.4 million borrowers had less than 5 percent equity, referred to as near-negative equity, in the third quarter. Together, negative equity and near-negative equity mortgages accounted for 27.1 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide in the third quarter, down from 27.5 in the previous quarter.

****Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside-down,” is the condition in which borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.

****“Although slightly down, negative equity remains very high and renders many borrowers vulnerable when negative economic shocks occur, such as job loss or illness. The nearly $700 billion mortgage debt overhang has touched many corners of the market, and this overhang is holding back the recovery of the housing market and broader economy,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic.

****Data Highlights:

****>> Nevada has the highest negative equity percentage with 58 percent of all of its mortgaged properties underwater, followed by Arizona (47 percent), Florida (44 percent), Michigan (35 percent) and Georgia (30 percent). This is the first quarter that Georgia entered the top five, surpassing California which had been in the top five since tracking began in 2009.

****>> The top five states combined have an average negative equity ratio of 41.4 percent, while the remaining states have a combined average negative equity ratio of 17.6 percent.

****>> There are nearly 22 million borrowers, or 45 percent of all borrowers, that have mortgages with an 80 percent or more loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, and 69 percent of those mortgages have above-market interest rates of 5 percent or more.  Conversely, only 54 percent of borrowers who have less than 80 percent LTV have above-market interest rates.  While above-market interest rates make refinancing at today’s historically low rates a cost-effective step for qualified homeowners, it can be more difficult for borrowers with above-average LTV ratios to qualify for refinancing.

****>> Of the 10.7 million borrowers in negative equity, there are 6.3 million first liens without home equity loans that have an average mortgage balance of $222,000. They are underwater by an average of $52,000 which equates to an average LTV ratio of 131 percent. The negative equity share for the first lien-only borrowers was 18 percent, and 40 percent had an LTV of 80 percent or higher.

****>> The remaining 4.4 million negative equity borrowers hold first liens and home equity loans with an average mortgage balance of $309,000.  These borrowers are underwater by an average of $84,000 and have an average LTV of 137 percent.

****>> The negative equity share for first lien borrowers with home equity loans is 38 percent, or twice the share for first lien-only borrowers. Over 60 percent of borrowers with home equity loans have combined LTVs of 80 percent or higher.

>****>> Of the total $699 billion in aggregate negative equity, first liens without home equity loans account for $329 billion aggregate negative equity, while first liens with home equity loans account for $370 billion. CoreLogic estimates that of the $370 billion first liens with home equity loans, $190 billion is due to the first lien component.

****>> There are 8.6 million conventional loans in a negative equity position that have an average mortgage balance of $272,000 and are underwater by an average of $70,000.

****>> There are 1.5 million FHA loans in a negative equity position that have an average mortgage balance of $170,000 and are underwater by an average of $26,000.

****>> Given that bank portfolios account for 15 percent of all first lien mortgage loans, CoreLogic estimates that 1.6 million properties valued at $105 billion of aggregate negative equity are in bank portfolios.

Market Analysis: The Power Of The Web

*The Web/Client Server Debate is Settled*
**By Tony Garritano**

***I remember the days when we debated about client server technology vs. Web-based technology. The consensus was that mortgage lenders would never embrace the Web. Boy were those industry experts wrong. The Web is everywhere and lenders are increasingly turning to Web-based tools. Vendors are turning to the Web more and more, too. For example, CoreLogic has launched HomeStandingson RE/MAX Mainstreet, a members-only extranet website exclusive to the RE/MAX organization, including RE/MAX Affiliates, RE/MAX Employees and RE/MAX Approved Suppliers. The HomeStandings report provides property specific, easy-to-understand, professional-grade data and analytics that enable RE/MAX Agents to accurately assess the overall purchase quality of a home. HomeStandings combines property, neighborhood and market characteristics to provide a complete local understanding of a home’s value, marketability and rent potential and is available for virtually every property in the United States. Additional data taken into consideration include area pricing, surrounding market conditions, crime rates, schools, estimated market rent and investment opportunities.

****“RE/MAX is pleased to work with CoreLogic to provide our agents with detailed property data that produces a significant competitive advantage,” said Mike Ryan, executive vice president, RE/MAX Global Communications and Branding. “Home buyers and sellers are always anxious to understand the true value of their home, and increasing numbers of investors will appreciate this information in analyzing the specifics of their real estate investments.”

****RE/MAX Agents gain a greater competitive advantage with insight into the complex mix of property, neighborhood and market trends that drive property values, rental prices and market potential. Agents will provide further value to buyers, sellers and investors with essential data to help manage risk, decide whether to sell or rent properties, and perform due diligence prior to buying properties or distressed asset pools.

****Use of the HomeStandings report also has a unique component that can help agents quickly identify potentially profitable foreclosed properties that are eligible for resale based on the grade generated by the report for each property. To confirm this capability of HomeStandings, CoreLogic reviewed more than 115,000 properties that were sold as foreclosures and then resold within six months. The study revealed that properties that earned an A grade with HomeStandings had a resale profit averaging $81,000 higher than those with D and F grades.

****“HomeStandings is recognized as an important, relevant property research tool and has already delivered more than two million reports for three of the largest mortgage companies in the nation,” said H. Harper Thorpe, vice president of Real Estate Solutions at CoreLogic. “While limited information is available on consumer websites, stakeholders with real dollars on the line rely upon the increased comprehensive and accurate information brought together by CoreLogic.”