There seems to be some concern that the 2020 economic downturn will lead to another foreclosure crisis like the one we experienced after the housing crash a little over a decade ago. However, there’s one major difference this time: a robust forbearance program.
During the housing crash of 2006-2008, many felt homeowners should be forced to pay their mortgages despite the economic hardships they were experiencing. There was no empathy for the challenges those households were facing. In a 2009 Wall Street Journal article titled Is Walking Away From Your Mortgage Immoral?, John Courson, Chief Executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association, was asked to comment on those not paying their mortgage. He famously said:
“What about the message they will send to their family and their kids?”
Courson suggested that people unable to pay their mortgage were bad parents.
What resulted from that lack of empathy? Foreclosures mounted.
This time is different. There was an immediate understanding that homeowners were faced with a challenge not of their own making. The government quickly jumped in with a mortgage forbearance program that relieved the financial burden placed on many households. The program allowed many borrowers to suspend their monthly mortgage payments until their economic condition improved. It was the right thing to do.
What happens when forbearance programs expire?
Some analysts are concerned many homeowners will not be able to make up the back payments once their forbearance plans expire. They’re concerned the situation will lead to an onslaught of foreclosures.
The banks and the government learned from the challenges the country experienced during the housing crash. They don’t want a surge of foreclosures again. For that reason, they’ve put in place alternative ways homeowners can pay back the money owed over an extended period of time.
Another major difference is that, unlike 2006-2008, today’s homeowners are sitting on a record amount of equity. That equity will enable them to sell their houses and walk away with cash instead of going through foreclosure.
The differences mentioned above will be the reason we’ll avert a surge of foreclosures. As Ivy Zelman, a highly respected thought leader for housing and CEO of Zelman & Associates, said:
“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”
Geoff Green, President of Green Team Realty, welcomed everyone to the November 2020 Housing Market Update. The webinar, held on Tuesday, November 17 at 2 p.m. examined the housing market on both national and local levels.
If you missed the webinar or would like to view it again, it’s available here:
In January, the economy was strong, there were no signs of the housing market slowing down. It took a major global event to slow down a roaring economy.
So, what did people do with stimulus checks?
35% used it to pay down debts. 36% saved the money, and 29% spent the money. U.S. Consumer spending since January 1, 2020, is down by -3.7%. Changes in consumer spending by state is shown below:
Unemployment filings and benefits
Weekly unemployment filings have been steadily coming down. However, unemployment does remain at a high number. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is also trending downwards.
Mortgage Forbearance, Home Inventory, Home Appreciation, and Mortgage Rates
The number of mortgages in active forbearance is decreasing dramatically. As of Oct 20, out of 2,397,000 families granted forbearance, some have extended it, However, 44% came out of the program while paying on time. In addition, 500,000 people paid off their mortgage.
Moreover, stats show the decrease in inventory over the last 12 months. According to Zillow, the top reasons for people not putting their homes on the market now are financial uncertainty, uncertainty about life in general, and COVID-19 health concerns.
Most experts are bullish on home price appreciation. However, Mortgage Bankers’ Association is predicting rising mortgage rates over the next 3 years.
Learn more. Watch the Webinar.
For updates on what is happening in commercial real estate, the crisis facing renters at the end of moratoriums, and national and local market stats, click here.to watch the webinar. You’ll also be hearing from the sales associates, and financial and mortgage experts on what they are seeing in the market.
As the economy recovers from this year’s health crisis, the housing market is playing a leading role in the turnaround. It’s safe to say that what we call “home” is taking on a new meaning, causing many of us to consider buying or selling sooner rather than later. Housing, therefore, has thrived in an otherwise down year.
Today’s high buyer demand combined with low housing inventory means we’re seeing home prices appreciate at an above-average pace. This demand is being driven by those who want to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates. According to Freddie Mac:
“The record low mortgage rate environment is providing tangible support to the economy at a critical time, as housing continues to propel growth.”
These factors are driving a positive impact on the economy as a whole. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the real estate industry provided $3.7 billion dollars of economic impact to the country last year. To break it down, in 2019, the average newly constructed home contributed just over $88,000 per build to local economies. Across the country, real estate clearly makes a significant impact (See map below):
In addition, last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced the U.S. Gross Domestic Product increased at an annual rate of 33.1% in the 3rd quarter of this year, after decreasing by 31.4% in the second quarter. There’s no doubt the growing economy is being fueled in part by the soaring housing market. Experts forecast this housing growth to carry into 2021, continuing to make a big impact on the economy next year as well.
The American Dream of homeownership has continued to thrive in the midst of this year’s economic downturn, and “home” has taken on a new meaning for many of us during this time. Best of all, the housing market is making a significant impact as the economy recovers.
As the current forbearance mortgage relief options come to an end, many are wondering if we’ll face a foreclosure crisis next year. This is understandable, especially for those who remember the housing crisis that began in 2008. The reality is, plans have been put in place through forbearance to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
This year, homeowners are able to request 180 days of mortgage relief through forbearance. Upon expiration of that timeframe, they’re also entitled to request 180 additional days, bringing the total to 360 days of deferred payment eligibility. As forbearance expires, homeowners should stay in touch with their lender, because creating a plan for the deferred payments is a critical next step to avoiding foreclosure. There are multiple options for homeowners to pursue at this point, and with the right planning and communication with the lender, foreclosure doesn’t have to be one of them.
Many homeowners are concerned that they’ll have to pay the deferred payments back in a lump sum payment at the end of forbearance. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Fannie Mae explains:
“You don’t have to repay the forbearance amount all at once upon completion of your forbearance plan…Here’s the important thing to remember: If you receive a forbearance plan, you will have options when it comes to repaying the missed amount. You don’t have to pay the forbearance amount at once unless you are able to do so.”
When looking at the percentage of people in forbearance, we can also see that this number has been decreasing steadily throughout the year. Fewer people than initially expected are still in forbearance, so the number of homeowners who will need to work out alternative payment options is declining (See graph below):
This means there are fewer and fewer homeowners at risk of foreclosure, and many who initially applied for forbearance didn’t end up needing it. Mike Fratantoni, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains:
“Nearly two-thirds of borrowers who exited forbearance remained current on their payments, repaid their forborne payments, or moved into a payment deferral plan. All of these borrowers have been able to resume – or continue – their pre-pandemic monthly payments.”
For those who are still in forbearance and unable to make their payments, foreclosure isn’t the only option left. In their Homeowner Equity Insights Report, CoreLogic indicates:
“In the second quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained approximately $9,800 in equity during the past year.”
Many homeowners have enough equity in their homes today to be able to sell their houses instead of foreclosing. Selling and protecting the overall financial investment may be a very solid option for many homeowners. As Ivy Zelman, Founder of Zelman & Associates, mentioned in a recent podcast:
“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”
If you’re currently in forbearance or think you should be because you’re concerned about being able to make your mortgage payments, reach out to your lender to discuss your options and next steps. Having a trusted and knowledgeable professional on your side to guide you is essential in this process and might be the driving factor that helps you stay in your home.
Real estate market conditions and values holding up much better than predicted six months ago says Urban Land Institute
Real estate market conditions and values in the U.S. are expected to rebound in 2021 and trend even higher in 2022, with single-family homes outperforming other sectors such as commercial, retail, hotel and rentals, according to a report released by the Urban Land Institute on October 22.
New single-family construction starts will fall slightly to 871,250 in 2020 before rising to 940,000 in 2021 and 975,000 in 2022, the highest level since 2006, according to the Urban Land Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes sustainable community development throughout the country.
In the meantime, home prices will grow an average of 4.1% over the next three years, above the long-term average of 3.9%, according to the report, based on a survey of 43 economists at 37 leading real estate organizations.
“The worst fears of earlier this year have mostly eased,” William Maher, principal of Maher Strategies and author of the report said. While uncertainties, related to the coronavirus pandemic and the presidential election, remain, “as of now, leading real estate economists are signaling that resilience and underlying strength will likely win out over uncertainty and risk,” he said.
The Urban Land Institute conducts semi-annual surveys—one in the spring and one in the fall—on real estate and macroeconomic fundamentals.
The economists had expected the U.S. GDP would decline 6% in 2020 in the spring survey, but now adjusted the forecast to a 5% decline. However, they lowered their estimate of the economic growth rate of 2021 to 3.6%, from 3.9% forecasted six months earlier.
Other real estate sectors will lag behind single-family housing in the coming two years but will hold up much better than economists had expected in the spring.
Commercial real estate price growth, measured by the Moody’s RCA Commercial Property Price Index (CPPI), is expected to fall 2% in 2020 rather than a projected 7% decline in May. The index is expected to flatline in 2021.
Retail vacancy, meanwhile, is expected to be 11.3% in 2021 and 2022, up from the 10.6% in 2020 and above the 20-year average of 9.7%. Office vacancy rates are expected to rise to 14.8% in 2022, above the 20-year average of 14%, according to economists’ forecast.
Many housing experts originally voiced concern that the mortgage forbearance program (which allows families impacted financially by COVID to delay mortgage payments to a later date) could lead to an increase in foreclosures when forbearances end.
Some originally forecasted that up to 30% of homeowners would choose to enter forbearance. Less than 10% actually did, and that percentage has been dropping steadily. Black Knight recently reported that the national forbearance rate has decreased to 5.6%, with active forbearances falling below 3 million for the first time since mid-April.
Many of those still in forbearance are actually making timely payments. Christopher Maloney of Bloomberg Wealthrecently explained:
“Almost one quarter of all homeowners who have demanded forbearance are still current on their mortgages…according to the latest MBA data.”
However, since over two million homeowners are still in forbearance, some experts are concerned that this might lead to another wave of foreclosures like we saw a little over a decade ago during the Great Recession. Here is why this time is different.
There Will Be Very Few Strategic Defaults
During the housing crash twelve years ago, many homeowners owned a house that was worth less than the mortgage they had on that home (called negative equity or being underwater). Many decided they would just stop making their payments and walk away from the house, which then resulted in the bank foreclosing on the property. These foreclosures were known as strategic defaults. Today, the vast majority of homeowners have significant equity in their homes. This dramatically decreases the possibility of strategic defaults.
“Unlike in 2008, strategic defaults have not emerged as a serious problem and seems unlikely to emerge given stronger expectations for property price increases, a record low inventory of homes, and stable residential underwriting standards leading up to the crisis which has reduced the number of owners who are underwater.”
There Are Other Options That Were Not Available the Last Time
A decade ago, there wasn’t a forbearance option, and most banks did not put in other programs, like modifications and short sales, until very late in the crisis.
Today, homeowners have several options because banks understand the three fundamental differences in today’s real estate market as compared to 2008:
1. Most homeowners have substantial equity in their homes.
2. The real estate market has a shortage of listings for sale. In 2008, homes for sale flooded the market.
3. Prices are appreciating. In 2008, prices were depreciating dramatically.
These differences allow banks to feel comfortable giving options to homeowners when exiting forbearance. Aspen Grove broke down some of these options in the study mentioned above:
Refinance Repay: Capitalize forbearance amount – For borrowers who have strong credit, have good or improved equity in their homes, possibly had a higher interest rate on their original loan, have steady employment/no significant wage loss, and income.
Repayment Plan:Payit back in higher monthly payments – For people who cannot reinstate using savings, but have increased monthly income, and do not want to use a deferral program.
Deferral Program: Shift payments to the end of the loan term – For borrowers who lost income temporarily and regained most or all of their income but are not in a position to refinance due to credit score, home equity, low total loan value relative to closing costs, or simple apathy.
Modification: Flex modification or other mod – For households that permanently lost 20% to 30% of their income, but not all of their income, and want to remain in their home.
Each one of these programs enables the homeowner to remain in the home.
What about Those Who Don’t Qualify for These Programs?
Homeowners who can’t catch up on past payments and don’t qualify for the programs mentioned have two options: sell the house or let it go to foreclosure. Some experts think most will be forced to take the foreclosure route. However, an examination of the data shows that probably won’t be the case.
A decade ago, homeowners had very little equity in their homes. Therefore, selling was not an option unless they were willing to tap into limited savings to cover the cost of selling, like real estate commission, closing costs, and attorney fees. Without any other option, many just decided to stay in the house until they were served a foreclosure notice.
As mentioned above, today is different. Most homeowners now have a large amount of equity in their homes. They will most likely decide to sell their home and take that equity rather than wait for the bank to foreclose.
In a separate report, Black Knight highlighted this issue:
“In total, an estimated 172K loans are in forbearance, have missed three or more payments under their plans and have less than 10% equity in their homes.”
In other words, of the millions currently in a forbearance plan, there are few that likely will become a foreclosure.
Some analysts are talking about future foreclosures reaching 500,000 to over 1 million. With the options today’s homeowners have, that doesn’t seem likely.