Homeowners Today Have Options To Avoid Foreclosure

Homeowners Today Have Options To Avoid Foreclosure.

Even with the latest data coming in, the experts agree there’s no chance of a large-scale foreclosure crisis like the one we saw back in 2008. While headlines may be calling attention to a slight uptick in foreclosure filings recently, the bigger picture is that we’re still well below the number we’d see in a more normal year for the housing market. As a report from BlackKnight explains:

“The prospect of any kind of near-term surge in foreclosure activity remains low, with start volumes still nearly 40% below pre-pandemic levels.”

That’s good news. It means the number of homeowners at risk is very low compared to the norm.

But, there’s a small percentage who may be coming face to face with foreclosure as a possibility. That’s because some homeowners may have an unexpected hardship in their life, which unfortunately can happen in any market.

For those homeowners, there are still options that could help them avoid having to go through the foreclosure process. If you’re facing difficulties yourself, an article from Bankrate breaks down some things to explore:

  • Look into Forbearance Programs: If you have a loan from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be able to apply for this type of program. 
  • Ask for a loan modification: Your lender may be willing to adjust your loan terms to help bring down your monthly payment to something more achievable.
  • Get a repayment plan in place: A lender may be able to set up a deferral or a payment plan if you’re not in a place where you’re able to make your payment.

 

And there’s something else you may want to consider. That’s whether you have enough equity in your home to sell it and protect your investment.

You May Be Able To Use Your Equity To Sell Your House

In today’s real estate market, many homeowners have far more equity in their homes than they realize due to the rapid home price appreciation we’ve seen over the past few years. That means, if you’ve lived in your house for a while, chances are your home’s value has gone up. Plus, the mortgage payments you’ve made during that time have chipped away at the balance of your loan. That combo may have given your equity a boost. And if your home’s current value is higher than what you still owe on your loan, you may be able to use that increase to your advantage. Freddie Mac explains how this can help:

“If you have enough equity, you can use the proceeds from the sale of your home to pay off your remaining mortgage debt, including any missed mortgage payments or other debts secured by your home.”  

Lean on Experts To Explore Your Options

To find out how much equity you have, partner with a local real estate agent. They can give you an estimate of what your house could sell for based on recent sales of similar homes in your area. You may be able to sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner facing hardship, lean on a real estate professional to explore your options or see if you can sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

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Why There Won’t Be a Recession That Tanks the Housing Market

Why There Won’t Be a Recession That Tanks the Housing Market.

There’s been a lot of recession talk over the past couple of years. And that may leave you worried we’re headed for a repeat of what we saw back in 2008. Here’s a look at the latest expert projections to show you why that isn’t going to happen.  

According to Jacob Channel, Senior Economist at LendingTree, the economy’s pretty strong:

“At least right now, the fundamentals of the economy, despite some hiccups, are doing pretty good. While things are far from perfect, the economy is probably doing better than people want to give it credit for.”

That might be why a recent survey from the Wall Street Journal shows only 39% of economists think there’ll be a recession in the next year. That’s way down from 61% projecting a recession just one year ago (see graph below):

a graph of the economic growth of the economy

Most experts believe there won’t be a recession in the next 12 months. One reason why is the current unemployment rate. Let’s compare where we are now with historical data from Macrotrends, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and Trading Economics. When we do, it’s clear the unemployment rate today is still very low (see graph below):

 a graph of a graph showing the number of employment rate

The orange bar shows the average unemployment rate since 1948 is about 5.7%. The red bar shows that right after the financial crisis in 2008, when the housing market crashed, the unemployment rate was up to 8.3%. Both of those numbers are much larger than the unemployment rate this January (shown in blue).

But will the unemployment rate go up? To answer that, look at the graph below. It uses data from that same Wall Street Journal survey to show what the experts are projecting for unemployment over the next three years compared to the long-term average (see graph below):

 a graph of blue bars

As you can see, economists don’t expect the unemployment rate to even come close to the long-term average over the next three years – much less the 8.3% we saw when the market last crashed.

Still, if these projections are correct, there will be people who lose their jobs next year. Anytime someone’s out of work, that’s a tough situation, not just for the individual, but also for their friends and loved ones. But the big question is: will enough people lose their jobs to create a flood of foreclosures that could crash the housing market?

Looking ahead, projections show the unemployment rate will likely stay below the 75-year average. That means you shouldn’t expect a wave of foreclosures that would impact the housing market in a big way.

Bottom Line

Most experts now think we won’t have a recession in the next year. They also don’t expect a big jump in the unemployment rate. That means you don’t need to fear a flood of foreclosures that would cause the housing market to crash.

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There’s No Foreclosure Wave in Sight [INFOGRAPHIC]

There’s No Foreclosure Wave in Sight [INFOGRAPHIC].

Some Highlights

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Foreclosure Activity Is Still Lower than the Norm

Foreclosure Activity Is Still Lower than the Norm.

Have you seen headlines talking about the increase in foreclosures in today’s housing market? If so, they may leave you feeling a bit uneasy about what’s ahead. But remember, these clickbait titles don’t always give you the full story.

The truth is, if you compare the current numbers with what usually happens in the market, you’ll see there’s no need to worry.

Putting the Headlines into Perspective

The increase the media is calling attention to is misleading. That’s because they’re only comparing the most recent numbers to a time where foreclosures were at historic lows. And that’s making it sound like a bigger deal than it is.

In 2020 and 2021, the moratorium and forbearance program helped millions of homeowners stay in their homes, allowing them to get back on their feet during a very challenging period.

When the moratorium came to an end, there was an expected rise in foreclosures. But just because foreclosures are up doesn’t mean the housing market is in trouble.

Historical Data Shows There Isn’t a Wave of Foreclosures

Instead of comparing today’s numbers with the last few abnormal years, it’s better to compare to long-term trends – specifically to the housing crash – since that’s what people worry may happen again.

Take a look at the graph below. It uses foreclosure data from ATTOM, a property data provider, to show foreclosure activity has been consistently lower (shown in orange) since the crash in 2008 (shown in red):

So, while foreclosure filings are up in the latest report, it’s clear this is nothing like it was back then.

In fact, we’re not even back at the levels we’d see in more normal years, like 2019. As Rick Sharga, Founder and CEO of the CJ Patrick Company, explains:

Foreclosure activity is still only at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels. . .”

That’s largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. Delinquency rates are still low and most homeowners have enough equity to keep them from going into foreclosure. As Molly Boesel, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, says:

“U.S. mortgage delinquency rates remained healthy in October, with the overall delinquency rate unchanged from a year earlier and the serious delinquency rate remaining at a historic low… borrowers in later stages of delinquencies are finding alternatives to defaulting on their home loans.”

The reality is, while increasing, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is today, or where it’s headed.

Bottom Line

Even though the housing market is experiencing an expected rise in foreclosures, it’s nowhere near the crisis levels seen when the housing bubble burst. If you have questions about what you’re hearing or reading about the housing market, connect with a real estate agent.

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Why Today’s Housing Inventory Shows a Crash Isn’t on the Horizon

Why Today’s Housing Inventory Shows a Crash Isn’t on the Horizon.

You might remember the housing crash in 2008, even if you didn’t own a home at the time. If you’re worried there’s going to be a repeat of what happened back then, there’s good news – the housing market now is different from 2008.

One important reason is there aren’t enough homes for sale. That means there’s an undersupply, not an oversupply like the last time. For the market to crash, there would have to be too many houses for sale, but the data doesn’t show that happening.

Housing supply comes from three main sources:

  • Homeowners deciding to sell their houses
  • Newly built homes
  • Distressed properties (foreclosures or short sales)

Here’s a closer look at today’s housing inventory to understand why this isn’t like 2008.

Homeowners Deciding To Sell Their Houses

Although housing supply did grow compared to last year, it’s still low. The current months’ supply is below the norm. The graph below shows this more clearly. If you look at the latest data (shown in green), compared to 2008 (shown in red), there’s only about a third of that available inventory today.

So, what does this mean? There just aren’t enough homes available to make home values drop. To have a repeat of 2008, there’d need to be a lot more people selling their houses with very few buyers, and that’s not happening right now.

Newly Built Homes

People are also talking a lot about what’s going on with newly built houses these days, and that might make you wonder if homebuilders are overdoing it. The graph below shows the number of new houses built over the last 52 years:

The 14 years of underbuilding (shown in red) is a big part of the reason why inventory is so low today. Basically, builders haven’t been building enough homes for years now and that’s created a significant deficit in supply.

While the final blue bar on the graph shows that’s ramping up and is on pace to hit the long-term average again, it won’t suddenly create an oversupply. That’s because there’s too much of a gap to make up. Plus, builders are being intentional about not overbuilding homes like they did during the bubble.

Distressed Properties (Foreclosures and Short Sales)

The last place inventory can come from is distressed properties, including short sales and foreclosures. Back during the housing crisis, there was a flood of foreclosures due to lending standards that allowed many people to get a home loan they couldn’t truly afford.

Today, lending standards are much tighter, resulting in more qualified buyers and far fewer foreclosures. The graph below uses data from the Federal Reserve to show how things have changed since the housing crash:

This graph illustrates, as lending standards got tighter and buyers were more qualified, the number of foreclosures started to go down. And in 2020 and 2021, the combination of a moratorium on foreclosures and the forbearance program helped prevent a repeat of the wave of foreclosures we saw back around 2008.

The forbearance program was a game changer, giving homeowners options for things like loan deferrals and modifications they didn’t have before. And data on the success of that program shows four out of every five homeowners coming out of forbearance are either paid in full or have worked out a repayment plan to avoid foreclosure. These are a few of the biggest reasons there won’t be a wave of foreclosures coming to the market.

What This Means for You

Inventory levels aren’t anywhere near where they’d need to be for prices to drop significantly and the housing market to crash. According to Bankrate, that isn’t going to change anytime soon, especially considering buyer demand is still strong:

“This ongoing lack of inventory explains why many buyers still have little choice but to bid up prices. And it also indicates that the supply-and-demand equation simply won’t allow a price crash in the near future.”

Bottom Line

The market doesn’t have enough available homes for a repeat of the 2008 housing crisis – and there’s nothing that suggests that will change anytime soon. That’s why housing inventory tells us there’s no crash on the horizon.

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Don’t Expect a Wave of Foreclosures [INFOGRAPHIC]

Don’t Expect a Wave of Foreclosures [INFOGRAPHIC].

Some Highlights

  • With ongoing high inflation pushing up everyday costs, some people are worried that’ll create a flood of foreclosures. Here’s why that’s unlikely.
  • Fewer people are seriously behind on mortgage payments right now. If foreclosures were going to rise a lot, more people would need to be late on their payments.
  • Since most are paying on time, a wave isn’t coming. If you’re concerned about a flood of foreclosures, the data shows that’s not likely.
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Don’t Expect a Flood of Foreclosures

Don’t Expect a Flood of Foreclosures.

The rising cost of just about everything from groceries to gas right now is leading to speculation that more people won’t be able to afford their mortgage payments. And that’s creating concern that a lot of foreclosures are on the horizon. While it’s true that foreclosure filings have gone up a bit compared to last year, experts say a flood of foreclosures isn’t coming.

Take it from Bill McBride of Calculated Risk. McBride is an expert on the housing market, and after closely following the data and market environment leading up to the crash, he was able to see the foreclosures coming in 2008. With the same careful eye and analysis, he has a different take on what’s ahead in the current market:

There will not be a foreclosure crisis this time.

Let’s look at why another flood is so unlikely.

There Aren’t Many Homeowners Who Are Seriously Behind on Their Mortgage Payments

One of the main reasons there were so many foreclosures during the last housing crash was because relaxed lending standards made it easy for people to take out mortgages, even if they couldn’t show that they’d be able to pay them back. At that time, lenders weren’t being very strict when assessing applicant credit scores, income levels, employment status, and debt-to-income ratio.

But now, lending standards have tightened, leading to more qualified buyers who can afford to make their mortgage payments. And data from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae shows the number of homeowners who are seriously behind on their mortgage payments is declining (see graph below):

Molly Boese, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, explains just how few homeowners are struggling to make their mortgage payments:

May’s overall mortgage delinquency rate matched the all-time low, and serious delinquencies followed suit. Furthermore, the rate of mortgages that were six months or more past due, a measure that ballooned in 2021, has receded to a level last observed in March 2020.”

Before there can be a significant rise in foreclosures, the number of people who can’t make their mortgage payments would need to rise. Since so many buyers are making their payments today, a wave of foreclosures isn’t likely.

Bottom Line

If you’re worried about a potential flood of foreclosures, know there’s nothing in the data today to suggest that’ll happen. In fact, qualified buyers are making their mortgage payments at a very high rate.

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Four Ways You Can Use Your Home Equity

Four Ways You Can Use Your Home Equity.

If you’re a homeowner, odds are your equity has grown significantly over the last few years. Equity builds over time as home values grow and as you pay down your home loan. And, since home prices skyrocketed during the ‘unicorn’ years, you’ve likely gained more than you think.

According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, the average homeowner has more than $274,000 in equity right now. That much equity can help you achieve certain goals. In a recent article, Bankrate elaborates: 

While the pandemic created serious challenges, the silver lining for anyone who owned a home was the sizable equity gain. Understanding how home equity works, and how to leverage it, is important for any homeowner.”

Here are a few examples of how you can put your home equity to work for you.

1. Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

If your current space no longer meets your needs, it might be time to think about moving to a bigger home. And if you’ve got too much space, downsizing to a smaller home could be just right. Either way, you can put your equity toward a down payment on a home that fits your changing lifestyle. A real estate agent can help you figure out how much equity you’ve got and how to use it when buying your next home.

2. Reinvest in Your Current Home

Renovations are a great option if you want to change your living space, but you aren’t yet ready to make a move. Home improvement projects give you the freedom to tailor your home to match your needs and personal style. But it’s important to consider the long-term benefits certain upgrades can bring to your home’s value. Lean on a real estate professional for the best advice on which improvement projects to prioritize in order to get the greatest return on your investment when you sell later on.

3. Pursue Personal Ambitions

Home equity can also serve as a catalyst for realizing your life-long dreams. That could mean investing in a new business venture, retirement, or funding an education. While you shouldn’t use your equity for unnecessary spending, using it responsibly for something meaningful and impactful can really make a difference in your life.

4. Understand Your Options to Avoid Foreclosure

Today the number of foreclosure filings remains below the norm, so there’s no need to fear a wave of foreclosed homes flooding the market. But unfortunately, there are still some homeowners who experience the foreclosure process each year. If you’re facing financial difficulties, having a clear understanding of your options and how your equity can help is crucial. Equity can act as a financial cushion that can be used in times of unexpected challenges or unforeseen circumstances that may disrupt your ability to make mortgage payments on time.

In an article, Freddie Mac explains it this way:

If exiting your home is the best option for you, selling with equity may be a good option. When selling with equity, you are using the proceeds from selling your home at a higher price than the amount you owe on your mortgage to pay off your remaining mortgage debt.”

Bottom Line

Your equity can be a game changer in reinvesting in your needs, pursuing your goals, and even helping you avoid foreclosure during difficult times. If you’re unsure how much equity you have in your home, connect with a local real estate professional so you can start planning your next move.

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Foreclosure Numbers Today Aren’t Like 2008

Foreclosure Numbers Today Aren’t Like 2008.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you’ve probably come across headlines talking about the increase in foreclosures in today’s housing market. This may have left you with some uncertainty, especially if you’re considering buying a home. It’s important to understand the context of these reports to know the truth about what’s happening today.

According to a recent report from ATTOM, a property data provider, foreclosure filings are up 2% compared to the previous quarter and 8% since one year ago. While media headlines are drawing attention to this increase, reporting on just the number could actually generate worry for fear that prices could crash. The reality is, while increasing, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is headed.

Let’s look at the latest information with context so we can see how this compares to previous years.

It Isn’t the Dramatic Increase Headlines Would Have You Believe

In recent years, the number of foreclosures has been down to record lows. That’s because, in 2020 and 2021, the forbearance program and other relief options for homeowners helped millions of homeowners stay in their homes, allowing them to get back on their feet during a very challenging period. And with home values rising at the same time, many homeowners who may have found themselves facing foreclosure under other circumstances were able to leverage their equity and sell their houses rather than face foreclosure. Moving forward, equity will continue to be a factor that can help keep people from going into foreclosure.

As the government’s moratorium came to an end, there was an expected rise in foreclosures. But just because foreclosures are up doesn’t mean the housing market is in trouble. As Clare Trapasso, Executive News Editor at Realtor.com, says:

Many of these foreclosures would have occurred during the pandemic, but were put off due to federal, state, and local foreclosure moratoriums designed to keep people in their homes . . . Real estate experts have stressed that this isn’t a repeat of the Great Recession. It’s not that scores of homeowners suddenly can’t afford their mortgage payments. Rather, many lenders are now catching up. The foreclosures would have happened during the pandemic if moratoriums hadn’t halted the proceedings.

In a recent article, Bankrate also explains:

“In the years after the housing crash, millions of foreclosures flooded the housing market, depressing prices. That’s not the case now. Most homeowners have a comfortable equity cushion in their homes. Lenders weren’t filing default notices during the height of the pandemic, pushing foreclosures to record lows in 2020. And while there has been a slight uptick in foreclosures since then, it’s nothing like it was.”

Basically, there’s not a sudden flood of foreclosures coming. Instead, some of the increase is due to the delayed activity explained above while more is from economic conditions.

To further paint the picture of just how different the situation is now compared to the housing crash, take a look at the graph below. It uses data on foreclosure filings for the first half of each year since 2008 to show foreclosure activity has been consistently lower since the crash.

While foreclosures are climbing, it’s clear foreclosure activity now is nothing like it was back then. Today, foreclosures are far below the record-high number that was reported when the housing market crashed.

In addition to all the factors mentioned above, that’s also largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans.

Bottom Line

Right now, putting the data into context is more important than ever. While the housing market is experiencing an expected rise in foreclosures, it’s nowhere near the crisis levels seen when the housing bubble burst, and that won’t lead to a crash in home prices.

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Why You Can’t Compare Now to the ‘Unicorn’ Years of the Housing Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why You Can’t Compare Now to the ‘Unicorn’ Years of the Housing Market [INFOGRAPHIC].

Some Highlights

  • Comparing housing market metrics from one year to another can be challenging in a normal housing market – and the last few years have been anything but normal. In a way, they were ‘unicorn’ years.
  • Expect unsettling housing market headlines this year, mostly due to unfair comparisons with the ‘unicorn’ years.
  • Connect with a local real estate professional who can share the data that puts those headlines in the proper perspective.
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