Freddie Mac CEO Ed Haldeman said the company has seen the number of its short sales increase 600% from 2008 as lenders look to dampen the impact of foreclosures hitting the marketplace. In a statement put out this week, Haldeman said Freddie Mac is doing everything it can to prevent more foreclosures, and that short sales are becoming an ever-popular tool in situations where foreclosure is imminent and modifications have failed. That number could increase as the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program takes hold. The Treasury Department launched it in April to provide cash incentives to servicers for conducting short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure. RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace, is even preparing a short sale report to go along with its usual foreclosure report every month. It won’t be available until the end of 2010 however. “Foreclosure alternatives like short sales and deeds-in-lieu help borrowers to avoid the stigma of foreclosure, shorten the waiting period before they can buy a new home, and may inflict less damage on their credit reports,” Haldeman said. He added that these alternatives are also helpful to lenders and insurers. Citing several independent studies, Haldeman said banks lose more than $50,000 per foreclosed home or as much as 30-to-60% of the outstanding mortgage. While short sales still add to the housing supply and can put pressure on local home values, they often avoid the lack of maintenance or damage foreclosed homes often display. Haldeman said Freddie has helped more than 350,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure since the housing crisis began. Since the middle of 2008, Freddie Mac reported total losses of $84.4bn, according to its quarterly reports. The company’s plight has forced a directive from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), its conservator, to de-list its and Fannie Mae’s common stock from the New York Stock Exchange. Write to Jon Prior.

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