Friday, February 23, 2007

Foreclosures swamp staff

Flood of cases and new software put city office in a hole

Hundreds of foreclosures in Denver are on hold because of a massive backlog in the Clerk and Recorder's Office, putting lenders in a "precarious position" and forcing the city to hire more help.

On Wednesday, 661 foreclosure packets, which are supposed to be recorded within 10 days, were more than two weeks past due, according to an internal report obtained by the Rocky Mountain News.

The problem is so bad that employees are working weekends to catch up and fielding urgent pleas from law firms handling foreclosures.

"I'm desperate!" starts off one e-mail to the clerk and recorder. "I have a (Department of Housing and Urban Development) title package that has to be sent out tomorrow."
Interim Clerk and Recorder Stephanie O'Malley said she inherited the problem when she was appointed to the post Jan. 9 by Mayor John Hickenlooper.

"The only thing I could do was say, 'I need to get more people in here to help move this process along,' and that is what I've done," she said.

The city's Career Service Authority is in the process of hiring the three on-call employees that she has requested, she said.

O'Malley, who is running for the seat in May, said there are two factors contributing to the backlog.

First, foreclosures in Denver have tripled since 2002.
The other factor delaying Denver foreclosures points to former Clerk and Recorder Wayne Vaden, who resigned in the wake of the disastrous Nov. 7 election.

While in office, Vaden approved the purchase of a $143,500 software program that requires employees to manually transfer data from about 2,500 older but active foreclosures into the new system.

"My staff has been held captive in having to migrate data physically from that old system to the new system and be attentive to new packets," O'Malley said. "It is a lot of work."
The program is designed to make the processing of foreclosures more efficient. That should happen once employees get caught up, O'Malley said.

Vaden, who negotiated a $150- an-hour consulting contract with the city two months after his resignation, did not return a message left on his cell phone.

In addition to inputting data from older files, employees at the Clerk and Recorder's Office said the new software also requires them to type in more information on new foreclosures.
They also said that Vaden never asked for their advice.

Rhonda Stewart, a deputy public trustee, said it used to take 10 minutes to process a foreclosure.

With the new software, it now takes about 30 minutes, she said.
"We're doing a lot of work, but we're not stressing out," Stewart said. "You can't stress out about it. You have to stay focused."

Metro-area law firms that handle foreclosures and do business with the city either declined to comment or did not return calls.

But in e-mails obtained by the Rocky, it is clear the backlog has put them under pressure.
"I know HUD could refuse title if we don't get it to them," states another e-mail.
HUD requires that all documentation, including the original or certified copy of a deed, be submitted within 45 days of the request for deed recording.

O'Malley said the backlog "doesn't bode well for the community."
"When you just have these properties sitting there dormant, from a community standpoint, that's not a good thing," she said.

The delay also hurts business.

"If you have a piece of property out there that's (on hold), the lender is put in precarious position because now they're sitting on a piece of property of which they're not getting any revenues," O'Malley said.

"There's no payment on the mortgage," she said.
"And so their goal, of course, is to move the property so that they can get a return on their investment."

Source :
or 303-954-5099
By Daniel J. Chacon, Rocky Mountain News February 22, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Default notices in state double in 4th quarter

The number of California homeowners who fell behind on mortgage payments more than doubled during the last three months of 2006, pushing defaults higher than at any other time in the past eight years, according to a report issued Wednesday.

Despite the jump, the number of default notices is well below historic highs. Housing experts blame the increase in part on rising interest rates and adjustable-rate mortgages. It's unclear whether the increase portends a further weakening of the market.

Statewide, lenders sent 37,273 notices of default in the fourth quarter, up 145 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to DataQuick Information Systems. The trend was more pronounced in Southern California and the Central Valley.

The Bay Area has weathered the downturn better than other parts of the state, protected in part by a short supply, economists said. Default notices rose 134 percent in the area, below the 141 percent jump in Southern California and the 168 percent increase in the Central Valley.
The Bay Area had less new construction and a tighter housing supply, making the market less volatile, experts said.

"In some places, the builders got a little bit ahead of themselves and the speculators got a little bit ahead of themselves and now they're feeling the foreclosure pain," said Scott Anderson, senior economist for Wells Fargo. "The Bay Area's home values in terms of supply and demand are much better balanced and that's keeping the foreclosure rates more manageable."
The fourth quarter saw the most default notices in any three-month period since the third quarter of 1998. A notice of default is the first step in the foreclosure process. Many who receive such notices avoid having their homes repossessed. About one-third of homeowners who received a notice of default in the fourth quarter of 2005 had lost their homes a year later, above historical averages, DataQuick said.

California is experiencing a rise in defaults because so many people took out adjustable-rate mortgages, economists say. About 28 percent of loans in California are adjustable, more than in any other state, according to First American LoanPerformance, which tracks mortgage risk. Borrowers with such loans have seen their monthly payments increase at the same time that home price appreciation has slowed, making it more difficult to sell or refinance.

"The state of California has been tremendously dependent on adjustable-rate mortgage products," said Anderson.

Homeowners in Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties were the least likely to go into default, the report found. In the Bay Area, some of the biggest increases in default notices came in Contra Costa and Solano counties, where the most new construction has occurred. Economists point out that the five-year housing boom pushed the number of defaults to record lows, making increases seem particularly dramatic.

"The ... percentage looks a bit more dramatic than it should because we are comparing it to such a low base," said Keitaro Matsuda, senior economist with Union Bank of California.
Although the number of default notices sent out last quarter is above the 33,615 average for the 14-year period in which DataQuick has tracked foreclosures, it's still below historic highs. The number of default notices peaked in the first quarter of 1996 at 61,541.

"For a long period of time, California had some of best credit quality in the country," said Anderson of Wells Fargo. "We're now starting to see some of that unwind."

The report also found that the number of homes sold in foreclosure sales rose to 6,078 during the quarter from 874 in the fourth quarter of 2005. That compares with a record high of 15,418 in 1996 and a low of 637 in 2005.

Anderson and Matsuda disagreed about whether the state will continue to see a dramatic climb in foreclosure and default rates.

Matsuda said that as long as interest rates remain where they are, the number of foreclosures is unlikely to continue its rapid rise.

"I believe that the fourth-quarter pop will be the worst quarter in terms of foreclosures," Matsuda said.

But Anderson said that, even with the improvement in the housing market, it will take some time before the number of default notices returns to low levels.

"We expect it to play out over a number of years," Anderson said. "It's not something that's going to go away next quarter, even if the housing market starts to stabilize."

Source : Marni Leff Kottle, Chronicle Staff Writer
E-mail Marni Leff Kottle at
This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, February 17, 2007

S&P to speed mortgage warnings

S&P to speed mortgage warnings

The ratings company, responding to rising delinquencies, will alert bond investors before foreclosures occur.

From Bloomberg News

In another sign of growing concern about mortgages made to high-risk borrowers, Standard & Poor's said it would no longer wait for homes to be foreclosed on and sold at a loss before alerting investors in mortgage-backed bonds that it expects to lower ratings on the bonds.
The ratings company now will consider issuing downgrade warnings based on the amount of loans that are delinquent, in foreclosure proceedings or already backed by seized property, Robert Pollsen, an analyst at the New York-based firm, said during a conference call with investors Thursday.
S&P will assume that none of the borrowers more than 90 days late will resume paying their mortgages, he said.
The firm is reacting to rising delinquencies and defaults on the riskiest types of home loans made in 2006. Many of those loans were packaged and sold to investors via mortgage-backed securities that pass interest through to the investors.
S&P said Wednesday that it was considering downgrades on 18 low-rated bonds from 11 securitizations of mortgages last year amid early loan problems.
"It is a watershed event" because it means S&P is now actively considering downgrading bonds within their first year, said Daniel Nigro, a portfolio manager at Dynamic Credit Partners, a manager of about $6 billion in hedge funds and collateralized debt obligations. "We welcome them being more open" about their methods.
The riskiest mortgages made last year are experiencing more delinquencies than ones from previous years at comparable ages, after a period in which some lenders lowered standards to attract business and home-price growth slowed from record levels in many regions.
S&P's warnings Wednesday were on bonds backed by so-called sub-prime and Alt-A loans, and by home-equity loans.
Sub-prime loans are those made to people with imperfect or poor credit histories.
Alt-A loans are defined as ones that fall only slightly short of the credit standards of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest U.S. mortgage firms.
Borrowers are 60 days or more behind on payments on 11-month-old 2006 sub-prime mortgages that represent 8.2% of the loans' total original balances, Steven Abrahams, an analyst at brokerage Bear Stearns Cos., wrote in a report this week.
The levels were "well ahead of the second-place class of 2000," whose problems totaled 5.2% at the same point, Abrahams wrote. "Given the underwriting legacy already in the pipeline and the tendency for serious delinquencies to develop slowly, news about sub-prime is likely to continue for months."
Probably the biggest issue is that many of the sub-prime loans were given out with small or no down payments through the use of "piggyback" home-equity loans, said Ernestine Warner, an S&P analyst.
In mid-2006, S&P began requiring more protection for bond investors when mortgages with piggyback down payments were included in securities, after finding they were 50% more likely to default. Santa Monica-based Fremont General Corp. this week eliminated so-called combo loan programs.
One of the bonds S&P warned about this week was backed by Alt-A mortgages. It was the company's first warning about any of those securities sold in 2006.
Alt-A loans often are made with less proof of borrowers' pay, or are interest-only loans or "option" adjustable-rate mortgages, whose payments can fail to cover the interest owed.
"In terms of performance, I'd say there are equal concerns" about Alt-A loans and sub-prime loans at S&P based on early delinquencies, Warner said.
The Alt-A bond S&P warned about was issued by Calabasas-based Countrywide Financial Corp., the largest U.S. mortgage lender. Newport Beach-based Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. made the loans.
Before Wednesday, S&P had already told investors it might downgrade several low-rated sub-prime and home-equity mortgage bonds created last year.
Competitors Moody's Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and Dominion Bond Rating Service also have notified investors they're considering downgrades on similar bonds.
The firms' announcements were a departure from past practices of waiting for at least one year from issuance to review their initial assessments about the quality of a mortgage bond.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ohio Gives a Million to Prevent Foreclosures

Kerri Panchuk 02.16.07

The Ohio Department of Development has generated $1 million in rescue funds to help distressed homeowners in their state. The donation will benefit the much larger Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Initiative — a statewide program that educates at-risk borrowers by referring them to a toll-free foreclosure prevention hotline. The statewide campaign involves NeighborWorks America, the Columbus Housing Partnership, and numerous other state and nonprofit agencies.Organizations in the network say foreclosure prevention is crucial since foreclosures are leaving black stains on entire neighborhoods and costing the community upwards of $50,000 in foreclosure expenses. With that in mind, the state agencies believe it's more cost-effective to focus on loss mitigation.“Our partnership with NeighborhoodWorks America is helping Ohio's foreclosure crises through education and outreach, quality counseling and referrals to local nonprofit agencies,” said Amy Klaben, president and chief executive officer of the Columbus Housing Partnership.


I like to see the bigger State such as California, Texas, New York and Florida have programs to help prevent homeowners go into foreclosures .. Great Job Ohio!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

More Californians at risk of losing homes

The number of Californians defaulting on their mortgage loans is rising rapidly, according to figures released recently, providing striking evidence that more people are at risk of losing their homes.

Default notices jumped 145% in the last three months of 2006, accelerating a trend that began in late 2005 as home sales started to cool.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Florida Foreclosure Rates Rising

The state of Florida had the eighth highest rate, with an increase of more than 6% and 8,898 properties entering some state of foreclosure -- more than every state except Texas. Foreclosure filings had increased 42.55% in the first quarter of 2006 over the fourth quarter of 2005.

source :

California Foreclosures up again

Lending institutions sent homeowners 37,273 default notices during the October-to-December period. That was up by 36.9 percent from 27,218 the previous quarter, and up 145.3 percent from 15,196 for fourth-quarter 2005, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

County/Region 2005Q4 2006Q4 %Chg
Los Angeles 3,480 7,445 113.9%
Orange 918 1,983 116.0%
San Diego 1,173 3,150 168.5%
Riverside 1,607 4,528 181.8%
San Bernardino 1,473 3,538 140.2%
Ventura 261 794 204.2%
Imperial 66 167 153.0%
Socal 8,978 21,605 140.6%
San Francisco 106 173 63.2%
Alameda 456 1,173 157.2%
Contra Costa 541 1,511 179.3%
Santa Clara 489 874 78.7%
San Mateo 176 339 92.6%
Marin 51 101 98.0%
Solano 297 781 163.0%
Sonoma 143 323 125.9%
Napa 33 87 163.6%
Bay Area 2,292 5,362 133.9%
Santa Cruz 62 134 116.1%
Santa Barbara 83 298 259.0%
San Luis Obispo 66 119 80.3%
Monterey 94 291 209.6%
Coast 305 842 176.1%
Sacramento 849 1,927 127.0%
San Joaquin 464 1,293 178.7%
Placer 149 540 262.4%
Kern 424 1,044 146.2%
Fresno 518 1,059 104.4%
Madera 55 130 136.4%
Merced 118 466 294.9%
Tulare 179 427 138.5%
Yolo 64 188 193.8%
El Dorado 59 199 237.3%
Stanislaus 159 909 471.7%
Central Valley* 3,179 8,531 168.4%
Mountains* 110 208 89.1%
North Calif* 332 725 118.4%
Statewide 15,196 37,273 145.3%
* includes additional counties

Source: DataQuick Information Systems and

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