HOPE NOW: Foreclosure sales fall to pre-bust levels

Total number of loan modifications since 2007 reaches 7.1 million

During the second quarter of 2014, there were approximately 115,000 foreclosure sales, the lowest quarterly figure since 2007. The total was also down 27% from the same period last year, when there were an estimated 158,000 foreclosure sales.

The data comes courtesy of a new report from HOPE NOW, a voluntary, private sector alliance of mortgage servicers, investors, mortgage insurers and non-profit counselors.

The estimated 115,000 foreclosure sales in the second quarter represented a decline of 9% from the first quarter’s total of 126,000. HOPE NOW notes that the second quarter total was the lowest since it started tracking the data in 2007.

“Since 2007, our members have offered over 20 million mortgage solutions, including more than seven million permanent loan modifications,” HOPE NOW Executive Director Eric Selk said. “HOPE NOW continues to engage all stakeholders on a daily basis and our data reflects these efforts. For the balance of the year, we will remain focused on educating at-risk borrowers, assisting them with sustainable mortgage options and working with our members to improve communication and institute best practices.”

According to HOPE NOW latest quarterly report, there were roughly 421,000 homeowners that received “non-foreclosure solutions” from mortgage servicers between the months of April and June.

Permanent loan modifications accounted for 116,000 of those non-foreclosure solutions, and short sales totaled 33,000, HOPE NOW said. The remaining homeowners were aided by a variety of solutions, including: repayment plans, deeds in lieu, other retention plans and liquidation plans.

Of the 116,000 loan modifications completed in the second quarter, about 34,400 homeowners received their modifications under the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program. The remaining 82,000 homeowners were aided by proprietary loan modifications.

The total of loan modifications fell 13% in the second quarter from 133,000 in the first quarter of 2014. HOPE NOW also noted that foreclosure starts declined in second quarter as well, from 217,000 in 1Q14 to 200,000 in 2Q14.

HOPE NOW also notes that the mortgage industry has completed 7.1 million total permanent loan modifications for homeowners since 2007. Of those loan modifications, more than 5.7 million were proprietary programs and 1,387,321 were completed under HAMP.

HOPE NOW’s data echoes a recent report from RealtyTrac, which showed that foreclosures of all types fell 16% in July from the previous year.

“July was the 46th consecutive month where U.S. foreclosure activity was down on a year-over-year basis,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “After nearly four years of falling foreclosures, we are starting to see evidence that foreclosure numbers are normalizing at the national level. The 16% decrease in July was exactly half the annual decrease we saw a year ago in July 2013, when U.S. foreclosure activity was down 32% on a year-over-year basis.”

HOPE NOW also reported that there were an estimated 38,000 loan modifications in June. Of that total, approximately 28,000 were proprietary loan modifications and 10,813 were completed under HAMP. Total modifications for the month represented a 6% increase from the previous month (36,000).

Of the proprietary loan modifications completed in June 2014, approximately 63% (18,000) had reduced monthly principal and interest payments of more than 10%, HOPE NOW said in its report.

Selk said that the organization’s members know that despite the positive trend in foreclosure data, the work isn’t finished yet.

“HOPE NOW members will continue to work with leaders and government agencies on a local level so that special attention can be given to the various markets around the country that still have the biggest housing related issues,” Selk said.

But all this positivity isn’t shared by HousingWire contributor Lynn Effinger, who recently asked “Are we facing yet another foreclosure crisis?”

In his post to HousingWire on Tuesday, Effinger suggests that continuing high unemployment rates, declining consumer confidence, higher taxes for many Americans, the slow economic recovery, and other factors could contribute to another rash of foreclosures.

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