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S&P puts shadow inventory principal balance at $450 billion

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The shadow inventory of foreclosures now stands at $450 billion, according to Standard & Poor's. The number estimates the principle balance of residential properties in foreclosure but not yet on the market. Following the collapse of the housing market in 2008, delinquent loans and repossessed properties overwhelmed lender pipelines, forming the shadow inventory of mortgages and homes that will inevitably face liquidation. S&P categorizes the shadow inventory as containing loans at least 90-days delinquent or somewhere in the foreclosure process, and properties taken into REO. This "yet-to-be-absorbed" amount of homes would take 49 months to clear at the current sales pace, which fell off even more in February. But Diane Westerback, director of S&P's global surveillance analytics team, said like real estate, the shadow inventory is local. The shadow inventory's size varied in the wake of recent foreclosure problems. "Despite the large balance of distressed properties still outstanding, significant variations in inventory levels and trends exist among cities across the U.S," Westerback said. The New York market will need more than 10 years to clear its shadow inventory supply, or 130 months, according to S&P data. Most of its delinquent properties are caught in the foreclosure process as seen in the chart below. The New York timeline would nearly double how long it would take in Boston, which S&P estimates is 70 months. The shorter timelines appeared in surprising places. Phoenix, Las Vegas and Detroit each had shadow inventory supply of less than 30 months, possible evidence that the worst may be behind in those markets. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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