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S&P revises shadow inventory timeline upward, again

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In the last three months, an estimated liquidation timeline covering the nation's backlog of distressed real estate actually increased, according to Standard & Poor's. The ratings agency now estimates it will take 44 months -- up 10% percent from an estimate made just three months ago and 25% annualized -- to clear the so-called shadow inventory of homes in distress or foreclosure, but not yet on the resale market. Some markets are significantly more impaired when compared to others, the agency concluded. In September, Standard & Poor's estimated it would take 40 months. "Our recent estimates of months to clear have increased primarily as a result of the deceleration of the distressed property liquidation rate rather than a rise in overall distressed property levels," according to analysts in a research report emailed to HousingWire. They add that the overall level of distressed loans appears to be waning, and the loan cure success rates seem to be improving (see chart below). "Almost 80% of the loans modified or cured for the first time during first-quarter 2008 re-defaulted within the first year of modification, compared with 50%-55% of those modified or cured in third-quarter 2009," analysts said. "Nonetheless, the volume of modified loans (about 15% of the total overhang) is minimal relative to the balance of the remaining loans that are still distressed." The analyst also broke down liquidation timelines based on different markets. Miami is the only top 20 metropolitan statistical area where the timeline is decreasing. Tampa is the only MSA with a stable timeline. The other 18 MSAs now have longer estimated timeframes to clear the shadow inventory, compared to the previous quarter. The rate at which liquidations slowed was greatest in San Francisco, but based on sheer volumes, New York faces the longest period of correction. "We estimate that it will take nearly 10 years to clear the inventory in the New York MSA at the current liquidation rate," the Standard & Poor's analysts write. "That is at least twice as long as it will take in any of the other top 20 MSAs and nearly three times the average time to clear for the entire U.S." The revised numbers from Standard & Poor's reflect the fact that banks and thrifts foreclosed on 382,000 homes in the third quarter. This represents a 31.2% spike from the previous quarter, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. "These new foreclosures will add to the growing backlog of properties that are in some state of repossession," the analysts said. Write to Jacob Gaffney.

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