Denver Has Among Nation’s Lowest Foreclosure Rates

ATTOM Data Solutions, the nation’s most comprehensive aggregator of foreclosure data, reported last week that the number of foreclosure filings in the 3rd Quarter (July-September) of 2020 was down 12% from the 2nd Quarter and down 81% nationally from the same quarter a year ago. Denver was down 89% and Colorado was down 90%. Only three cities and four states recorded bigger year-over-year declines.

The combination of foreclosure moratoria and forbearance programs was a primary contributor to these drops, so the question on many people’s minds is whether we’ll see a flood of foreclosure filings when these programs end sometime in the coming months.

In a press release, Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac, a related company, is quoted as follows:

“We’ll certainly see more repossessions by lenders once the foreclosure moratoria have ended, but maybe not as many as people might expect. Given the record amount of homeowner equity – over $6.5 trillion – it seems likely that many homeowners in financial distress will opt to take advantage of strong demand among homebuyers and sell their property rather than risk losing it to a foreclosure auction.”

Experts Are Predicting a Surge in Foreclosures, But I See the Situation Differently

With the continued high unemployment rate and the expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), many homeowners are hurting, so it makes sense that we may have a foreclosure crisis in our future.

CoreLogic reported recently that back in June (when the Feds were still sending $600/week in PUA to Americans) the share of mortgages with payments 90 to 119 days late had already risen to 2.3%, “the highest level in 21 years.” A rate that high could result in a foreclosure crisis, the report said. Not only could millions of families potentially lose their home, but that would also create downward pressure on home prices.

But I see the situation differently, and after consulting with Jaxzann Riggs of The Mortgage Network, here’s why I don’t expect that flood of foreclosures.

First of all, foreclosure should only happen when a seller owes more on their home than it is worth. That’s because sellers lose all their accumulated equity in a foreclosure, and most people have accumulated a lot of equity thanks for the sellers’ market we have been experiencing.

Secondly, federally mandated forbearance is in effect, which is unlike the forbearance which delinquent borrowers may have enjoyed in the past. Under the current plan, lenders add extra payments at the end of the loan instead of requiring any kind of catch-up payments. This mandate could be extended, too.

The only people likely to face foreclosure will be those who recently took out 100% VA loans or 96.5% FHA loans or conventional loans with only 3% down payment, and for whom there is hardly any equity to lose in a foreclosure action.

Being on forbearance doesn’t affect one’s credit rating even though you are not making payments (again, part of the federal mandate), but once you resume payments, you need to make a minimum of three on-time payments to qualify for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, which will restrict your ability to sell your home and purchase a replacement home. Some lenders require six months post-forbearance loan payments.

That, too, will slow down any surge in what are known as “distressed listings.”