New FHA Foreclosures Spike

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As lenders continue to try to modify delinquent mortgages or offer foreclosure alternatives, like short sales or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure, the number of loans entering the foreclosure process are falling.

So-called “foreclosure starts” were down 2.6 percent in April from the previous month, according to a new report from Lender Processing Services.

But it’s not all good news.

FHA loans, those insured by the federal government, saw a huge spike in foreclosure starts, up 73 percent during the month, according to the LPS report. Loans originated in 2008 and 2009 are primarily to blame, although all FHA vintages did see some, albeit far smaller, increases.

“In 2008, when the loan origination market virtually dried up, the FHA stepped in to fill the void,” explained Herb Blecher, senior vice president for LPS Applied Analytics. “FHA originations tripled that year, and increased to five times historical averages in 2009. High volumes like that, even with low default rates, can produce larger numbers of foreclosure starts.”

Still the numbers mean a big hit to the FHA, which is already operating at well below its congressionally mandated two percent capital reserve ratio. “The 2008 vintage alone represents some $14 billion of unpaid balances in foreclosure, and the overall FHA foreclosure inventory continues to rise,” adds Blecher.

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