Foreclosure sales dip for second straight month
Mortgage servicers completed 68,000 foreclosure sales on the courthouse steps in May, down 7% from the previous month and the second straight month of declines, according to the Hope Now alliance of insurers, counselors and lenders. Foreclosure sales dropped 14% in April. However, servicers started 176,000 foreclosures in May, up 8% from the previous month. Roughly 2.67 million mortgages remained in 60-day delinquency, up 1% from the previous month. Modifications remained flat at roughly 85,000 through private initiatives and the Home Affordable Modification Program. Private modifications dipped to 53,000 in May, a 7% decrease. In April, the drop on private workouts was 26%, allowing HAMP to take a larger share of completed modifications. Servicers completed 32,398 permanent HAMP modifications in May, up 12%. "Despite increases in foreclosure starts and a decrease in proprietary modifications this month, there were still a few bright spots in fewer foreclosure sales, an increase in HAMP loan modifications and the third straight month of relatively flat 60+ day delinquencies," said Faith Schwartz, the executive director of Hope Now. Schwartz added servicers have even more tools now to assist troubled homeowners. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will target roughly 30,000 borrowers with unemployment assistance through the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program. The Federal Housing Administration recently increased the forbearance period on its modification program, and banks are still signing up to 19 state programs under the Treasury Department's Hardest Hit Fund. Since the housing meltdown in 2007, servicers completed 4.6 million modifications, according to Hope Now. "While we have seen loan modifications flatten out in recent months, the overall numbers continue to illustrate the size and scope of what mortgage servicers, and their non-profit and government partners, have achieved on behalf of at-risk homeowners," Schwartz said. "This combination of new tools and extraordinary outreach efforts has resulted in the most comprehensive set of solutions available to at-risk homeowners to date." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.