With the annual holiday season approaching, many across the country will soon be celebrating with families and loved ones. Many such gatherings will toast the season and its blessings.
But for families still troubled by delinquent mortgages and foreclosures, this time of year has another meaning. These consumers are wondering if they will have a home this holiday season. Although September 2013 marked the 23rd consecutive monthly drop in the nation's foreclosures, approximately 902,000 homes remained in some state of foreclosure.
Additionally, mortgage delinquencies, the omen of the likelihood of foreclosure, has troubled states and metro areas, according to new data released by CoreLogic, a leading residential property information, analytics and services provider.
On the foreclosure front, 51,000 foreclosures were completed in September. Since the September 2008 onset of the housing crisis, 4.6 million foreclosures have occurred nationwide. By comparing September 2012 foreclosures to those of last month, the nation saw a 39 percent decline or 448,000 fewer lost homes.
But if you live in Florida, California, Texas, Michigan or Georgia – you are a resident of one of the five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures during the past 12 months. In fact, these states accounted for almost half of all completed foreclosures nationally. Florida alone had 115,312 completed foreclosures.
North Carolina (27,135), Arizona (24,269), Washington (20,547), Tennessee (19,710), Missouri (13,654) and Virginia (13,130) complete the list of the 10 highest states with completed foreclosures in this same time span.
CoreLogic also analyzed foreclosures in metro areas. The five highest areas with completed foreclosures – again over the past 12 months – were Atlanta (24,309), Chicago (20,347), Tampa -St. Petersburg (15,754), Phoenix (14,821) and Orlando (12,062).
Additionally, 63 percent of Georgia's foreclosures were in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Similarly in Arizona, 62 percent of the state's foreclosures were in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale MSA.
Delinquencies, mortgages that are 90 days or more in arrears, show an even broader effect. The national average of seriously delinquent mortgages stands at 5.2 percent. Yet 13 states have delinquencies above that of the national average. The states with the highest percentages of delinquencies are: Florida (11.9 percent), New Jersey (10.6 percent), Nevada (8.1 percent), New York (7.9 percent) and Maryland (7.2 percent).
Similarly, the same metro areas that exceeded the national average for a percentage of seriously delinquent mortgages were the same as those with the highest number of completed foreclosures – but with one disturbing addition. Citywide in Cincinnati, one of every 729 homes is in foreclosure. Yet in two zip codes, foreclosure rates are doubled that of the city: 45240 (one of every 304) and 45231 (one of every 334).
In other words, financial recovery from the housing crisis is uneven nationwide. Many metro areas remain troubled by foreclosures, falling property values and delinquencies. These ills, in turn, fiscally handicap municipal governments from helping residents when they are most in need of assistance. As municipal tax collections dwindle, so does the financial capability of local governments.
Although historically homeownership has been a reliable method for families to build wealth, the risky and high-cost subprime lending that operated absent of regulation is the central reason why many communities still suffer with housing woes. Key regulations that take effect in January 2014 are intended to prevent the return of no-documentation loans while ensuring the ability to repay mortgages.
In the meantime, consumers with mortgage lending or servicing problems can receive assistance from the Consume Financial Protection Bureau. Online access to mortgage complaint forms is available at www.consumerfinance.gov.
In higher education discussions, many have said, "Leave no child behind". When it comes to housing, "No family should be left behind" either.
Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending.