Most Troubled Real Estate Markets

Delinquencies, foreclosures likely to put a damper on 2010 recovery.

March is usually the month when people in the real estate business start getting hopeful. Spring usually brings out both buyers and sellers and, along with them, higher values for most homes.

But for some of the biggest housing markets in the country, those hopes look to be in vain this year. The problem is the glut of homes that have been repossessed by banks or that seem headed in that direction. The glut is far bigger than it was a year ago.

In fact the outlook is flat-out grim, based on the latest data from First American CoreLogic, a housing data firm that tracks 97% of U.S. transactions for the mortgage industry. The percentage of homes that banks have filed foreclosure on or repossessed (and stamped with the dreaded “REO,” or “real estate owned,” moniker) now account for 3% of all mortgaged homes. That’s up from 2.2% a year ago. In some large cities, the rate is two-to-six times the national average.

The number of homeowners who haven’t quite sunk into the foreclosure swamp–but are in serious danger of doing so–is also way up from 2009. First American CoreLogic tracks mortgages that are at least 90 days delinquent. (They include mortgages already in foreclosure or converted to REO.) One in 14 mortgages in the U.S. now meets this standard, up from one in 22 a year ago.

“The overhang is a dark specter over the housing market,” says Sam A. Khater, senior economist at First American CoreLogic. There are now 3.5 million mortgages at least 90 days delinquent. In addition, 2 million mortgages are at least 180 days delinquent, says Khater. Unlike unemployment, the rise in delinquent mortgages hasn’t decelerated, he adds.

The government’s various efforts to keep most of these mortgage from being converted to REO have helped struggling homeowners remain in their homes, but most of the moratoria against foreclosures and the various federal programs aimed at supporting low-income borrowers are soon to end. “Then what?” asks Kahter.

In Las Vegas the 90-day delinquency rate is 21.7%. In Miami it’s 28.8%. Those two sunny cities were the twin epicenters of the condo boom, so maybe their comeuppance was to be expected. But the other metro areas on the list of places where at least 10% of mortgages are delinquent, in foreclosure or converted to REO include some big names that may surprise you: Chicago, Los Angeles and the towns and cities of Nassau and Suffolk counties on New York’s Long Island.

Even tiny Bend, Ore., is in serious trouble, with 10.3% of its mortgages either delinquent or foreclosed on, up from 4.7% a year ago. Wasn’t Bend one of those charming villages where people moved to escape high prices? Opt instead for Corvallis, three hours further east of Portland. Delinquencies there are a tame 1.7%.

Top 5 Most Troubled Real Estate Markets

1. Miami, Fla.
Delinquency rate: 28.8%
Comment: In greater Miami, including Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, one-quarter of mortgages are 90 days past due or worse. In Miami proper, one-fifth of mortgages are in foreclosure or converted to REO. Worst in the country by far.

2. The Rest of Florida
Delinquency rate: 16%
Comment: The only significant metro area in Florida with a delinquency rate below 10% is Pensacola, where 9% of mortgages are 90 days or more past due.

3. Las Vegas, Nev.
Delinquency rate: 21.7%
Comment: Maybe building all those high-rise condo buildings off the strip wasn’t such a great bet after all. Mortgages in foreclosure or converted to REO here are 10.2% of the total.

4. Riverside, Calif.
Delinquency rate: 19.1% Comment: Riverside’s boom is a fading memory; 7.7% of the mortgages in this metro area are either in foreclosure or converted to REO. That’s twice the 3% national average.

5. Bakersfield, Calif.
Delinquency rate: 16.4%
Comment: In this quiet area north of Los Angeles values are way down and 6.4% of mortgages are in foreclosure or converted to REO.

Posted in Real Estate.

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