Real Estate News
Default notices drop by 10 percent in California
Published Thursday, 22-Oct-2009 in issue 1139
Mortgage default notices against California homeowners dropped during the past quarter, as lenders renegotiated more loans and took other steps to limit foreclosures, a real estate tracking firm said Tuesday.
Nearly 112,000 mortgage default notices were filed during the July-September period, a 10 percent drop from the 125,000 filed during the second quarter of 2009, San Diego-based MDA DataQuick said.
DataQuick President John Walsh said lenders might be intentionally slowing the pace of formal foreclosure proceedings.
“If so, it’s not out of the goodness of their hearts,” he said. “It’s because they’ve concluded that flooding the market with cheap foreclosures in this economic environment may not be in their best financial interest.”
A better tactic to stem losses could be to keep motivated, employed borrowers in their homes, Walsh said.
The latest figures marked a 19 percent increase from the nearly 92,000 default notices recorded in the year-ago period, when a new state law began requiring lenders to meet with borrowers to discuss possible remedies to foreclosure 30 days before beginning the process.
The current figures were down sharply from a record high of more than 135,000 notices during the first quarter of 2009.
Notices of default are the first step in the formal foreclosure process.
The number of homes actually lost to foreclosure reached 50,000 during the most recent quarter, up almost 10 percent from nearly 46,000 in the prior quarter but down about 37 percent from a record of nearly 80,000 during the year-ago period.
Foreclosures continued their slow migration from affordable inland communities to higher-end coastal areas.
Homebuilders are growing less optimistic about their fortunes as a temporary tax credit for first-time homebuyers that boosted home sales this year nears its end.
The National Association of Home Builders said Monday this month’s housing market index, which tracks industry confidence, slipped by one point to 18, the first dip since June when the reading fell to 15.
Builders also are feeling less positive about the likelihood of sales between now and the next six months and said home-shopper foot traffic has softened since September.
The dimmed outlook comes as the federal tax credit that covers 10 percent of a home price up to $8,000 for first-time buyers is set to expire. To qualify, homebuyers must complete their transactions by Nov. 30.
“It would be virtually impossible at this point to complete a new home sale in time to take advantage of that buyer incentive,” said David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist.
The builders’ trade association is lobbying the Obama administration to support a 12-month extension. “That would amount to a very effective stimulus to housing demand and a needed boost to the overall economy,” Crowe said.
Despite job losses and other impacts from the recession, new home sales have climbed five months in a row. Several major homebuilders have posted better than expected financial results since the spring.
Homebuilders’ stocks slipped Monday following the release of the report. Shares of Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., led the sector drop, with shares falling 20 cents, or about 5 percent, to $3.94.
The reading for current sales conditions slipped one point to 17. Traffic by prospective buyers fell three points to 14. The sales expectations index over the next six months fell two points to 27.
The latest NAHB index reflects a survey of 493 residential developers nationwide. Index readings below 50 indicate negative sentiment about the market. The last time it was above 50 was in April 2006.