Foreclosure Activity Declines Hurting Investors
April 2012 Foreclosure Starts declined across our coverage area wiping out the small gains in new foreclosure filings last month. In California, Notice of Default filings are down 69.8 percent from the peak in March 2009, and 15.8 percent from April 2011. Notice of Trustee Sale Filings, the start of Arizona's foreclosure process, are down 59.4 percent from the peak in March 2009, and down 8.0 percent year-over-year.
Foreclosure Sales also declined, however, foreclosure investors purchased a record percentage of the limited inventory that was actually sold. Nevada investors purchased more than 50 percent of foreclosure sales for the first time at 50.7 percent. Arizona followed with 44.6 percent and California at 41.3 percent. The low number of sales, combined with record percent purchased on the courthouse steps left very little to become Bank Owned (REO). This further depletes the inventory of Bank Owned homes as REO sales continue to outpace the addition of new inventory.
Despite investors purchasing a higher percentage of foreclosure sales, margins have rapidly declined in recent months. In both Arizona and Nevada winning bids on the courthouse steps on average equal the current estimated value of those properties. In California the discount between market value and winning bid have on average declined to 12.3 percent. This leaves investors who intend to resell their purchases with record low profits after eviction, repairs, and closing costs.
"Foreclosure declines would be wonderful news if they were being driven by a true market recovery in which hundreds of thousands were no longer unable to make payments, and millions were no longer upside down. That is not the reality today. Instead we are seeing unprecedented government intervention into the foreclosure process leaving underwater homeowners in limbo, while stealing opportunity from investors and first time buyers." stated Sean O'Toole, Founder & CEO of Foreclosure Radar. "California's pending legislation, which is similar to laws we previously saw enacted in Nevada, will almost certainly bring foreclosure activity to a near halt there if passed. The reality is that these laws don't solve anything as they fail to address the real problem – negative equity – while instead they punish real estate professionals, homebuyers, and investors far more than the banks they were aimed at."