When San Bernardino County officials formed a joint powers authority to consider ways to solve the negative equity crisis in its community, they didn't have very reliable data on the subject.
The JPA approved unanimously a formal request for proposals to be drafted by staff during a hearing Thursday. But at that hearing, just about everyone pushed back against the idea of using eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages so a group of investors can cut the principal and profit off the refinanced loan.
Mark Dowling, CEO with Inland Valleys Association of Realtors, ripped the county officials for not even gathering proper data on the issue.
A half-page data set circulated by the county uses what many at the hearing Thursday called Zillow [stock Z][/stock] estimates unreliable on home values in the area. The county claims 60% of borrowers in the surrounding metros of Riverside, Ontario and San Bernardino making up the Inland Empire owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.
CoreLogic pulled some data at HousingWire's request Thursday afternoon. According to their numbers, roughly 43% of the mortgages in San Bernardino County are underwater.
This puts it in line with other hard hit areas like Atlanta, Phoenix and Sacramento and back below levels seen in Orlando and Las Vegas. Officials in both Southern Florida and the surrounding Vegas area have told HousingWire they're not considering the idea.
More interesting is the amount of home loans more than 90 days delinquent. CoreLogic data shows roughly 26,500 of the 309,000 mortgages in San Bernardino County have missed at least three payments, for a severe delinquency rate of 8.5%. And that's on the way down. The amount of severely problematic loans dropped 28% from one year ago in San Bernardino County, according to CoreLogic.
No data set is perfect, and certainly as we've seen, no housing program is either. But Dowling couldn't believe the county would move forward to consider such a controversial idea without gathering the numbers first.