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Monday, May 23, 2011

Will foreclosures bounce back in the second quarter?

Foreclosure totals were unusually low in February and March, driving a significantly lower first quarter total compared to previous years. Much of this was driven by an ongoing situation in which lenders and servicers are processing foreclosures at a very slow pace. It is difficult to determine how much of the decline in foreclosure activity is due to this change in processing, and how much is due to true stability in the real estate markets.

The concern has been that if there are still high numbers of new delinquencies, and the lenders and servicers speed up the processing of foreclosures, then foreclosure totals will climb quickly, possibly to new record totals.

However, fourth quarter data shows that new delinquencies in Colorado were going down. See here. 30-day delinquencies in the fourth quarter have been down since 2008.

Also, if we look at the monthly foreclosure data for metropolitan counties, we see that monthly totals plummeted in February, but have not bounced back as expected. Preliminary April data on foreclosures show that filings totals have not increased much from February's 30-month low. These unusually low numbers continue even though the major lenders and servicers announced that the "slowdown" would be ended in November. It is clear that some lenders and servicers are processing slowly anyway, but if we consider both the declining delinquency numbers and the continued drops in new filings, there may be reason to believe that the downward trend in foreclosure filings is based not solely on a slowdown in processing. Nevertheless, foreclosures remain at very elevated levels compared to the period from 1994-2006.

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