Freddie Mac executives feel more optimistic about the housing market with Freddie's REO inventory down 30% from peak levels, home prices on the rise and unemployment edging lower.
"As of our last quarter, we were at about 53,000 units," said Chris Bowden, vice president of Freddie Mac's HomeSteps unit, while speaking at HousingWire's REperform Summit, a mortgage servicing conference that concluded Friday in Dallas.
The REO figure is down from 2010 peak levels of 75,000 homes in the government-sponsored enterprise's standing inventory.
"We were prepared and ready to go higher than that," Bowden said. But REO acquisitions slowed after the foreclosure affidavit issue that became known as robo-signing hit the industry in the fall of 2010, pushing distressed inventories down, Bowden explained.
The trend of fewer distressed assets continued with REO buyer-demand picking up in recent years, Bowden added.
Meanwhile, Freddie's vice president of servicer relationships and performance, Ty Miller, said his team continues to focus on "early intervention" with distressed borrowers under the GSE's Servicing Alignment Initiative.
The initiative, which put specific guidelines in place for servicers, aims to help borrowers and servicers by ensuring someone is on the phone with a borrower early on in the default process.
"We are collaborative and transparent with them," Miller said when discussing how the program works with servicers. "We put a lot of emphasis on early intervention with the borrowers.