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The New Wave of Foreclosures: Hurting the Housing Recovery?

Among the benchmarks of a recovery in the US housing market since 2011 is the “foreclosure pipeline” – the number of foreclosed homes reaching the market during a particular period. Although massive amounts of foreclosures were processed during the housing crash of 2008-2011, those numbers have been dropping in most markets since then – a trend that some real estate and financial experts have seen as a promising sign of recovery. But the second and third quarters of 2012 saw an increase in foreclosure activity once again, particularly in some of the nation’s largest housing markets. This increase is raising red flags for the rebounding housing industry in 2013, but it may signal new opportunities for heroic investors following Jason Hartman’s recommendations..

The dust is clearing from the original mortgage crisis of the past few years. Some lenders are imposing stricter standards on borrowers and attempting to work with struggling homeowners to avoid foreclosure. It appears that the conditions for large numbers of foreclosures simply don’t apply any more. But the lingering aftermath of those conditions are still contributing in some ways to the current foreclosure situation.

Recent foreclosure statistics indicate that while foreclosure activity has been decreasing annually in markets such as San Francisco, foreclosures are in fact increasing in cities such as New York, Tampa, and Chicago.

One reason new waves of foreclosures are hitting the market has to do with delayed processing of foreclosure actions from the original round of mortgage defaults. As we’ve discussed in previous posts on the foreclosure market, so many foreclosures were being processed at the height of the meltdown that these cases created a backlog for both lenders and the courts, with delays of more than 1,000 days in some situations. These foreclosures are still being processed, so the properties involved will be released for sale as the cases clear.

Some foreclosures were purchased in lots and held by major lenders and real estate groups, to be placed up for sale in bulk lots at an unspecified future date. These properties are available for sale only to invited investing groups, rather than to everyone, a practice raising objections by some real estate groups and individual investors. Nevertheless, these foreclosures will be placed back into circulation as rentals.

Other ways foreclosures enter the “pipeline” involve tax lien sales, in which an investor buys a lien placed on a property for back taxes and forecloses the house if the owner can’t pay the tax debt. And some homeowners attempting to qualify for a short sale or other mortgage relief may face foreclosure when those assistance measures offered by the lender don’t resolve their financial issues.

The number of foreclosures expected to go up for sale in 2012 is unclear. The numbers depend partly on whether Fannie Mae and private real estate organizations will continue their practice of selling bulk lots of the homes they hold to investment groups and whether homeowners opting for short sales to avoid foreclosure will actually succeed.

Whatever the increase in foreclosure really means instability in the housing market or not, these homes remain an attractive investment for income property investors applying Jason Hartman’s strategies for smart, wealth-building investing.

The Heroic Investing Team

 

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