It seems that avoiding foreclosure is now becoming more difficult for many troubled homeowners. It’s being reported that foreclosures and foreclosure related legal activity have increased about 75% in major US cities. As you might expect foreclosures in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada are still the highest although other metro areas are seeing increases in activity. What we’re seeing now are three effects from the increased number of foreclosures: rising inventories of homes for sales, an increased level of foreclosure activity by mortgage loan companies and an increased number of foreclosure relief scams.
First, the rising number of homes for sale puts a drag on home prices that will be difficult to overcome for some time. This creates a difficult environment if you need to sell your home, even as a short sale, or refinance a home loan since it keeps home prices low. Even if you live in an area that isn’t as badly impacted, your home value will suffer too. While some home ownership tracking agencies report a tapering off of new foreclosures in heavily hit areas the current inventory glut means that the recovery of home prices is going to be pushed out several years.
However, the news that foreclosures in areas where there was a significant price bubble and many sub-prime loans isn’t getting worse has to be weighed against the news that prime, mainstream, home loans are being affected at an increasing rate. Homeowners who had good credit and a once solid earnings history are now beginning to default in increasing numbers due to job loss and other such factors related to the recession.
On top of this news, banks and other mortgage loan companies are beginning to move faster on foreclosures. Last year, many were under political pressure from the Obama administration and Congress to hold off on foreclosures. Now, with the new financial reform law passed and Democrats set to lose some control in Washington after the 2010 elections, this pressure appears to be reduced. Also, bank loan analysts have had enough time to discover if a loan is worth salvaging under various foreclosure relief programs. This means that banks are more prone to enforce their foreclosure rights now than they were a few months ago. The net effect is that strategic defaults and other delaying tactics which allowed people to stay in their homes for months or even a year or more without making a payment aren’t going to work now.
Unfortunately, all of this new foreclosure activity has caused an increase in the number of foreclosure relief scams. Be wary of anyone trying to sell you a program that encourages you to use dodgy techniques to forestall foreclosure. Banks have become wise to these tricks and are moving ahead with foreclosure if they think a home loan can’t be saved.