“Shadow Foreclosures” 8 Million More Foreclosures May Be Waiting: ABC NEWS

Boy have these Banks really shot themselves! This is what WILL destroy AMERICA!

Foreclosure Glut: Is ‘Shadow Inventory’ Really a Threat?

Millions of New Foreclosures Will Stifle, Not Crush Housing Market, Say Economists

June 7, 2010

Every once in a while, the term “shadow inventory” makes it into the business headlines. Invariably, stories warn of a looming flood of foreclosures that will drag the housing market down as soon as homeowners begin to feel optimistic again.

But what is shadow inventory — and is it really such a big threat?

Different experts have different definitions. Some only include homes that have already been repossessed by banks and are awaiting distressed sales. Others include those whose owners are long-overdue on mortgage payments, while others still count homes whose owners would like to sell but are waiting for conditions to improve.

8 Million More Foreclosures May Be Waiting

“The definition of shadow inventory has gotten out of control,” says Rick Sharga, senior vice president at RealtyTrac, an online market for distressed homes.

As a result, estimates of homes in the shadows vary widely between 2 million and 8 million. By comparison, approximately 5.5 million homes are expected to change hands this year, of which about a third are in some kind of distress.

High estimates usually include include repossessed homes that have not yet been listed for sale, homes that have been moved from the delinquent bucket and into foreclosure, and homes that are more than 60 days delinquent.

“Theoretically you could say up to 7 million homes are in the pipeline, but not all of them will go into the market and if even if they do, not all of them will hit at once,” says Sharga. Given the current pace of sales, Sharga believes shadow inventory could be cleared by the end of 2013, at which point the housing market can begin a real recovery.

Shadow Inventory Can Be Lethal

The problem with shadow inventory is that it does not simply represent additional supply. It’s supply of the worst kind: distressed homes that are often in hard-hit regions, often in a state of disrepair. Homes in foreclosure have more power to drag down real estate prices and keep them depressed for years to come.

“If you can buy a cheap foreclosed home next door to a normal home, many people will choose to buy the discounted home,” says Celia Chen, housing analyst at Moody’s Economy.com. She estimates that 4.6 million homes are currently waiting in the shadows, almost a whole year’s worth of housing supply.

Shadow Inventory Stuck In Limbo

Like many other analysts, Chen believes we still have a long way to go before real estate prices begin recovering. Some expect a recovery to begin in the middle of next year, others don’t see it coming for several more years.

There are many reasons that shadow inventory is so difficult to gauge.

For one thing, financial institutions that own distressed mortgages are not saying exactly how many homes they hold. Firms have generally been releasing their supply of distressed homes slowly into the market for fear of crushing prices.

Another problem is that nobody knows exactly how many homes will make it out of the government’s “Home Affordable Modification Program.” Chen estimates that only 45 percent of the 1.2 million loans that are aiming for a modification will actually succeed, while the rest will likely end up in foreclosure.

While these numbers certainly are cause for concern, the good news is that this shadow inventory is unlikely to cause a shock to the system similar to the initial crash.

No Nuclear Event in Housing

“Much as during the arms building between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, neither one ever launched a nuclear attack for fear of causing complete destruction,” says RealtyTrac’s Sharga. “You’re not going to see a nuclear event happen in the housing market either.”

Esmael Adibi, economics professor at Chapman University says shadow inventory is actually a good thing bcause it means that financial institutions – primarily lenders and investors who own the delinquent mortgages – are holding on to the inventory instead of dumping it into the market.

Adibi says financial institutions are not only holding on to their inventory in order to avoid crushing the market, but also because they believe they might get a better deal once prices have recovered slightly.

“Can you imagine if all those homes ended up in the market now?” he says. “Things would be much worse.”

POCKET CHANGE!! BofA’s Countrywide settles with FTC for $108 million

(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp has agreed to pay $108 million to settle government charges that its Countrywide unit, the mortgage lender that became synonymous with risky lending practices, bilked borrowers with misleading and excessive fees.

Housing Market

The Federal Trade Commission said two Countrywide mortgage servicing units deceived cash-strapped homeowners by overcharging them by hundreds or thousands of dollars, sometimes when they were already in bankruptcy.

The alleged activity took place before Bank of America acquired the distressed lender in 2008.

The settlement is a small win for regulators trying to hold to account those who contributed to the deep financial crisis.

The agency called the $108 million settlement one of the largest in an FTC case and the largest in a mortgage servicing case. The FTC has no jurisdiction over banks but does have jurisdiction over deceptive practices by non-bank financial services and products firms.

Countrywide, which was once the nation’s top mortgage lender, “profited from making risky loans to homeowners during the boom years, and then profited again when the loans failed,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, noting that some fees during the foreclosure process were marked up more than 400 percent.

Bank of America said in a statement that it agreed to the settlement to void the expense and distraction of litigating the case. There was no admission of wrongdoing.

The FTC said the $108 million, which represents the amount consumers were overcharged, would be used to repay borrowers but could take months to sort out.

“The record-keeping of Countrywide was abysmal,” said Leibowitz. “Most frat houses have better record-keeping than Countrywide.”

In May, Countrywide agreed to a $624 million settlement of a class action lawsuit accusing it of misleading investors about its lending practices. The case was led by several pension funds, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund, that state’s $129.4 billion public pension fund, and five New York City pension funds.

Once the largest U.S. mortgage lender, Countrywide and its long-time chief executive, Angelo Mozilo, became known for risky lending practices that helped fuel the U.S. housing boom and subsequent bust.

Countrywide nearly collapsed as credit markets tightened, before Bank of America agreed to buy it in January 2008 in a stock deal valued at about $4 billion.

Mozilo and two other former Countrywide executives remain defendants in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil fraud lawsuit.

The SEC alleges that Mozilo hid from investors the deteriorating prospects of Countrywide, and conducted insider trading by entering a systematic stock selling plan in late 2006, knowing that the mortgage lender’s prospects would worsen.

The SEC claimed Mozilo violated insider trading rules in generating a $139 million profit by exercising stock options in 2006 and 2007.

It said the exercises came after he admitted in an email to colleagues that Countrywide was “flying blind” as to the quality of its loans.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and a member of the panel working out final wording on a comprehensive overhaul of Wall Street, called the FTC settlement “a major breakthrough that closes one of the ugliest chapters of the entire subprime mortgage crisis.”

“Anyone who believes the blame for the housing crisis rests with borrowers should read this settlement and learn just how shameless these lenders were during these years,” Schumer said.

(Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and by Joe Rauch in Charlotte; editing by John Wallace and Gerald E. McCormick)

CALIFORNIA: NEW BILL SB 1275 May allow homeowners to REVERSE FORECLOSURE SALES due to SERVICER’S ERRORS

Carrie Bay 6/4/2010 DSNEWS

The California Senate approved a new foreclosure bill on Thursday with a 21 to 12 vote and sent it on to the Assembly for review. The legislation lays out two major provisions intended to deter lax behavior on the part of servicers and prevent avoidable foreclosures in the state, which continues to post one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates.

The bill would provide a means of recourse to homeowners whose homes were lost to foreclosure due to serious servicer errors, and it would prohibit servicers from starting the foreclosure process until a homeowner has received a final decision on their modification.

According to a statement from the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), confusion and errors that cost Californians their homes, are devastating to the state’s housing market, but are avoidable.

If a borrower’s home is sold in foreclosure due to servicer error, there is currently no means by which to seek recourse. The bill, SB 1275, authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), seeks to change this by providing recourse through what is known as a private right of action.

This would allow eligible homeowners to seek limited damages which are directly related to the severity of the servicer’s errors, or, in some cases, would allow the homeowner to reverse the foreclosure sale.

During earlier committee hearings for SB 1275, servicers acknowledged that confusion and errors are commonplace. According to CRL, Bank of America executive Jack Schackett even admitted during a conference call that they “have not handled [their] customers to the standards Bank of America is accustomed to.”

“It’s unacceptable that when servicers lose faxes and lose payments, some Californians lose their homes,” said Caryn Becker, policy counsel with the CRL California office. “At nearly 1 million foreclosures and counting, we need to prevent every unnecessary foreclosure we can.”

Speaking in support of the bill’s passage, CRL said homeowners who have been wronged deserve the opportunity to make it right, but the organization says the legislation continues to face some opposition from Assembly members who oppose allowing California homeowners to pursue claims against their lenders and servicers.

SB 1275 would also prohibit servicers from foreclosing on homeowners who have requested modifications until a decision has been made, and the homeowner has been notified.

CRL says currently, servicers are initiating the foreclosure process even when borrowers are working to reach a resolution, including when homeowners are following all the rules to seek a loan modification, or are already making payments on a trial modification.

“Simple fairness dictates that no one should lose their home while they are in the middle of trying to save it,” said Paul Leonard, director of the California office of the Center for Responsible Lending. “A foreclosure that starts because a servicer’s left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing is the most preventable foreclosure of all.”

SB 1275 will be heard by the Assembly Banking Committee before it goes to the full Assembly for a vote. Assembly members are currently considering a separate bill, AB 1639, that would mandate foreclosure mediation through a new Facilitated Mortgage Workout (FMW) program, which would require lenders to meet with delinquent borrowers to try and devise an alternative plan of action before proceeding with foreclosure.

U.S. Banks’ Foreclosure Holdings Increased 12.5% in Q1: Report

BY: CARRIE BAY 6/4/2010 DSNEWS

Foreclosed property held by U.S. banks increased 12.5 percent to $41.5 billion during the first quarter of this year, according to a recent analysis by SNL Financial, a financial market research firm out of Charlottesville, Virginia.

The company says banks’ aggregate foreclosed inventory is up from $36.9 billion at year-end 2009, and $11.7 billion in the first quarter of 2008.

SNL data shows that other real estate owned, or OREO(which essentially means the same as REO and is defined as real property owned by a banking institution, most frequently the result of a borrower’s default and foreclosure), represented 0.3 percent of banks’ assets in the first quarter of 2010, up from 0.1 percent in the comparable period of 2008.

According to SNL analyst Andrew Schukman, during the first three months of this year, one-to-four unit family properties in the process of foreclosure but not yet to OREO, or REO, status increased 9.1 percent to $78.6 billion. With these repossessions coming down the pipeline, Schukman says OREO as a percentage of banks’ assets will likely continue to grow as additional properties complete foreclosure.

While properties continue to grow on banks’ balance sheets, the type of real estate being reclaimed has changed. According to SNL data, construction and land development properties represented nearly 40 percent of total OREO in the United States as of March 31, up from 24.3 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

Meanwhile, one-to-four family OREO fell to 28.4 percent of total OREO as of March 31, compared to 44.5 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

Other types of OREO include commercial real estate, which made up 18 percent of OREO in the first quarter; foreclosed Ginnie Mae property, which comprised 6.4 percent; multifamily, making up 6.1 percent; and farmland and foreign office, each comprising less than 1.0 percent.

U.S. Banks WILL BE ‘Toast’ If Struggling Homeowners Keep Walking Away (VIDEO)

Huffington Post | Sherry Shen First Posted: 06- 2-10 05:11 PM | Updated: 06- 2-10 05:11 PM

Felix Salmon

click for video

Reuters blogger Felix Salmon believes that if more and more struggling homeowners continue walking away from their homes, U.S. banks could be “toast.”

As strategically defaults continue to rise, some homeowners are using their inability to pay their mortgage to live rent free — often for more than a year, the New York Times reported.

“Trying to renegotiate your mortgage is not a morally reprehensible thing to do,” Salmon said, pointing out that mainstream media organization’s like the New York Times magazine has been publishing columns about this trend and how it makes so much “financial sense.” Corporations walk away from commercial mortgages, Salmon said. “It’s not clear to me why an individual should behave any different,” Salmon said.

Wells Fargo is most exposed to the trend, affecting the bank’s livelihood. “Sand state” banks such as those in Florida and California are also far more exposed. Here’s more from Salmon:

“From the bank’s point of view, if this catches on, there’s a very large number of banks in this country who are just toast. And in hindsight they were just much better off dealing in a realistic way with these borrowers a year ago or two years ago when the problem first reeled its head instead of extending and pretending. Now they are in a pickle.”

“If this trend continues, then the banking system is probably insolvent,” he said.

SmarTrend’s Trend Spotter Sees Continued Downward Momentum on Shares of Lender Processing Services (LPS)

May 27, 2010 (SmarTrend(R) Spotlight via COMTEX) —-SmarTrend identified a Downtrend for Lender Processing Services (NYSE:LPS) on May 07, 2010 at $35.31. In approximately 3 weeks, Lender Processing Services has returned 5.8% as of today’s recent price of $33.27.

Lender Processing Services is currently below its 50-day moving average of $37.60 and below its 200-day moving average of $38.92. Look for these moving averages to decline to confirm the company’s downward momentum.

SmarTrend will continue to scan these moving averages and a number of other proprietary indicators for any changes in momentum for shares of Lender Processing Services.

Write to Chip Brian at cbrian@tradethetrend.com

State Group Estimates 37% of California Foreclosures Involved Renters

If Dorthy was here today and reading this…

She would definitely click her heels and say there’s no place like NO home!

BY: CARRIE BAY DSNEWS.com

The foreclosure crisis in California has taken a toll on not only homeowners, but a large number of tenants in the state.

According to a new study from Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights, at least 37 percent of residential units in foreclosure in the Golden State last year were rentals, directly affecting over 200,000 tenants – most of whom were displaced.

Tenant Together’s research is based on California property records for every foreclosure in 2009, and the organization says its estimates are “conservative.”

The report – California Tenants in the Foreclosure Crisis Report- California Renters in the Foreclosure Crisis- final.pdf – concludes that while the largest percentage of renter-occupied foreclosed properties were single-family homes, the percentage of renter-occupied, multi-unit buildings is growing at a faster pace.

The organization says this trend is likely to increase as more loan modification programs target owner-occupied properties, which are primarily single-family homes and condominiums, while multi-unit rental properties continue to fall by the wayside and into foreclosure.

Since Tenants Together’s previous annual report was issued, the most significant develop for renters in foreclosure situations has been the enactment of the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act.

The new federal law increased the eviction notice period for tenants to 90 days, assured that existing leases survive foreclosure, and clarified that banks and other post-foreclosure owners of property step into the shoes of the pre-foreclosure owner and have the obligations of landlords.

Tenants Together says that while the new federal law is a step in the right direction, it comes short of providing long-term security for tenants and has been mired by implementation problems arising from banks’ non-compliance with the new law.

According to Gabe Treves, program coordinator at Tenants Together and author of the group’s latest report, “Tenants are innocent and hidden victims of a foreclosure crisis they did nothing to create. As this report shows, the unfair and unnecessary displacement at tenants at the hands of banks is affecting communities across the state at a devastating scale.”

Tenants Together concludes its annual report with a checklist of recommended actions to mitigate the impact of the foreclosure crisis on renters. Among the various proposals, the report notes that ‘just cause for eviction’ laws are a particularly effective and cost-free way to stop the displacement of tenants whose lenders have been foreclosed on and provide greater stability to California communities.