Foreclosures Rising 1st Time in 3 Years, Says RealtyTrac. So, is that good or bad?
It was yet another headline that caught my eye, “Quarterly Foreclosure Rate Rises for 1st Time in 3 Years,” appeared today in Mortgage News Daily.
It’s a story based on RealtyTrac;s latest U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for the third quarter of 2014, which indicates that “both defaults and scheduled auctions increased in the third quarter driving overall foreclosure activity to its first quarterly increase in three years.”
It had all the usual and more-then-maddening statistics that can leave one daydreaming about beating someone to death with a shovel. Overall foreclosure filings in the third quarter (default notices, scheduled auctions, and completed foreclosures or bank repossessions) increased almost half a percent from the second quarter to a total of 317,171.
But, that number was 16 percent lower than it was a year prior… but the increases, “were at the front end of the foreclosure process,” the article said… but default notices increased 2 percent from the second quarter… but scheduled foreclosure auctions were up 7 percent… but they were “partially offset by a 12 percent drop in completed foreclosures,” and since the moon was in the 7th house and Jupiter aligned with Mars, peace drove the planets and love steered the stars.
(Did you see this one coming?)
Obviously, this is the dawning of the Age of Nefarious.
An age that’s precarious…
When the goons take pictures of your house,
And you feel like, you’re fighting wars.
You lease countertops of granite,
Spend hours each day, in favorite bars.
This is the dawning of the Age of Nefarious,
An age that’s precarious…
Enmity, disgust compounding.
Lots of falsehoods and divisions…
Sadistic fiscal aberration…
And mankind’s mass degradation…
Okay, enough with the singing.
The report also showed the five states with the highest foreclosure rates during the third quarter included Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada, and Illinois. Some were up and therefore worsening, like Maryland and New Jersey, where “filings in the third quarter increased in Maryland on a year-over-year basis for the ninth consecutive quarter and in New Jersey for the 10th.”
Other states showed a decline on a year-over-year basis, but so what? It’s not like it’s the first time that’s been the case in one state or another, and just because the rate is down year-over-year, does that mean it’s stopping or just settling in for a long slow decline.
And the foreclosure process, according to the report, took an average of 615 days, which was 7 percent higher than the second quarter and up 13 percent year-over-year. That’s the longest average time to foreclose since RealtyTrac began tracking in the first quarter of 2007, according to Mortgage News Daily, so is it getting longer? And what does that mean to the numbers?
Also, as I’ve pointed out countless times, averages are very often deceiving. According to the article, “States with the longest average time to foreclose in the third quarter were New Jersey (1,064 days), Florida (951 days), Hawaii (937 days), New York (902 days) and Illinois (889 days),” all of which are clearly well beyond the national average.
Consider the following sentence from the article…
“Default notices were filed on 103,179 U.S. properties in the third quarter, an increase of 2 percent from the previous quarter but still down 11 percent from the third quarter of 2013 – the ninth consecutive quarter where default notices have decreased on a year-over-year basis nationwide.”
Up two percent over the prior quarter, but down 11 percent compared with the third quarter of 2013? Which one of those things is good and which isn’t? I can’t tell, can you? It reminds me of a Bank of America executive said that I included in the article I wrote just yesterday…
“… lenders tightened credit so much beginning in 2006 in response to the housing crisis that a loosening now is so minuscule that it doesn’t have much impact.”
How much of that sort of thing is in play here? The sort of thing that used to be called, “the policeman’s discount,” up 10, off 5… or in other words, a price calculated by raising it up by 10… before discounting it by 5. It looked like a deal, but wasn’t.
Anyway, all of that wasn’t even the reason I chose to write this in the first place. The reason for my covering this topic again, could be found in the very first sentence of the Mortgage News Daily article. It said…
“One has to hope that foreclosure data reported on Thursday by RealtyTrac is a sign that states are wrapping up the foreclosure crisis that has been ongoing since 2008, not that it signals further trouble in the housing sector.” (Emphasis shown in red, theirs.)
So, that’s it? All we can do from reading reports like this latest one from RealtyTrac is to “HOPE” that whatever it says is a sign that the crisis is somehow, inexplicably ending? Even though it’s never proven to mean that before… over the last six or seven years?
We can only “HOPE” that it’s not a sign of further or ongoing “trouble for the housing sector?”
That’s all we’ve got… HOPE?
And doesn’t the phraseology, “trouble for the housing sector,” anesthetize the whole topic so we don’t have to stop to think about what it really means? I mean, “trouble for the housing sector” actually means tens of thousands of people being evicted from their homes every month, right?
We’re talking about tens of thousands of families each month, some with school-age children… others in their 60s, 70s and even 80s or 90s… uprooted from their homes, forced to find apartments after living in their own American Dream homes sometimes where they’ve lived for many years… sometimes for even decades.
All of those countless millions forced to deal with the shame of losing a home, and the fear that comes with an uncertain future. Some will handle it better than will others. Some won’t survive it, and their children will lose something irreplaceable. Others will survive but be dead inside for years… some forever.
Let there be no mistake about it… losing tens of thousands of homes to foreclosure every month for six or seven years constitutes a very real crisis in any society. And after seven years we need to have a lot more than just HOPE that it will one day end… because it won’t end by itself.
We have to take steps to end it… not slow it down with another bandage, but actually make a commitment to stop the bleeding. We have to come to realize what’s still happening to our fellow citizens all around us every day. Pretending that it’s not that bad, or getting better, isn’t helping because it destroys our political will to acknowledge reality, make tough decisions, and put real solutions in place.
At least that’s certainly our national story for the last seven years… and soon it will be eight… and then 10… the end of our first “lost decade,” during which time all of our decisions incorporated an healthy measure of HOPE… and all of our plans and programs came up woefully short of expectations.
Well, here’s the deal:
- HOPE is NOT a strategy.
- WE are the government. Democracy only works when we participate in it.
- Foreclosures breed foreclosures. During the 1930s, we lost roughly 50 percent of homes to foreclosure. In this crisis, we’ve only lost about 10 percent to-date.
- We all have elected representatives who are always concerned by how their constituents feel about issues like the local economy, including jobs and home prices.
- There is no reason for this country to have “lost decades.” They will only happen when we let them happen. We tolerated segregation in this country… until we didn’t any more.
- This is still the land of opportunity, and if we can wage two wars, while we invent the world’s latest technology, and recover from the worst economic meltdown in 70 years, we can do what we resolve to do.
I have to tell you, however, that as I write these words I am not hopeful related to our country’s collective ability to right our proverbial ship anytime soon because I think we’ve stopped participating in our democracy to large degree. It’s not that I don’t think we care, it’s that I think we care far more about ourselves individually than we do for our nation as a whole.
For example, let’s consider California… the unemployment rate is the fourth worst in the country, the state lost 600,000 construction jobs as a result of the meltdown that began in 2008, and a Census Bureau report from 2103, showed that roughly a quarter of California’s 38 million residents are living in poverty: the highest rate in the country. The state has almost a dozen cities in bankruptcy or on and near the verge. And as far as foreclosures go… many parts of the state have been literally decimated by the crisis.
And yet, incumbent Governor Jerry Brown is not only certain to be reelected by a landslide, but in addition it would seem that the only type of individual who could even hope to beat him would be someone like George Clooney, Matt Damon, Oprah, or several of the other entirely unqualified but much beloved celebrities that many in this state consider royalty.
Absent anyone of that stature running, however, and Brown doesn’t actually need to campaign to win next month, to large degree because his name is easy to say and spell, and because it comes up at or near the top of anything alphabetized. But, as to what Brown can do for you… what’s the point of even asking? I’ve already mailed my congratulations card to the state’s Governor’s Mansion, not because I think he lives there, but because I’m proposing that it be renamed, “The Brown House,” the obvious irony being impossible to resist.
I don’t purport to know exactly how things are politically in every, or even any, other state… but I’d be absolutely overcome to discover that it’s anything near the polar opposite of what I see, hear and/or feel in California today. And that’s not a good thing… it’s a very bad thing, in point of fact.
THROW THE BUMS… IN!
According to Gallup data in 2012, leading up to the elections in November that year, only 10 percent of Americans report believing that members of Congress have high or very high honesty and ethical standards. And overall, Gallup also reported that congress’ approval rating just before the 2012 election, leapt up to 21 percent, after falling to all-time lows of around 10 percent in both February and August of 2012. That’s certainly in solid position on the Dismal Scale.
And yet, according to the website, “Outside the Beltway,” 90 percent of House members and 91 percent of senators won re-election in 2012, only exceeding the incumbent re-election rates of 2010. For senators, this year’s re-election percentage was the highest since 2004, and as I once heard a waitress reply when her co-worker said she was too busy to assist her: “Why, Sugah, I’m sure I don’t care.”
I’m not talking about voter turnout, by the way, which is why I’m not even looking up those numbers and/or forecasts… it’s not about voter turnout. I’d bet that a moderately well trained chimpanzee could be taught to vote, and even to choose: “BROWN,” for Governor of California.
I’m talking about the number of people voting that either: 1. Have even one specific area of knowledge related to what Governor Brown has done or says he plans to do IF reelected, lol. Or: 2. Care in the least about anything I just said.
Not sure if you even noticed, but the media has died in this country… passed away peacefully in its sleep, apparently. “The News” went first, but the rest of the programming is following the rest in a “course vers le bas,” that I think needs to be seen before it can be believed.
Does anyone even watch cable news anymore, I wouldn’t think so, unless you live in one of those states in which church is never over until the snakes are back in the bag… and watch Fox News. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not against whatever Fox News is… it’s just not “The News,” anymore than MSNBC is “The News.”
No, I’m afraid there is no more, “The News,” in this country. Today, we only have produced programming whose purpose is profit. We used to all listen to one or two sources of “The New,” like Walter Cronkite, on the CBS Evening News from 1902 to 20… I have no idea… he was on the CBS Evening News forever, in my mind.
We’d get our “News” from Cronkite, or Mudd, or Rather, or Walters… and it would all be about the same news, by the way… and then we’d divide up by forming our own opinions about what the news had said and whether it was good news or bad. But, we all got the same news stories… with the same core facts.
And if any of those legendary purveyors of “The News” were ever shown to have faltered and misreported something in “The News,” it was considered nothing short of scandalous.
Today, a large percentage of what I read, hear or watch from mainstream news is either wrong in some obvious and material way, or it’s so entirely devoid of anything that could be described as insight or intelligence, that it would be the equivalent of describing Moby Dick, widely referred to as the Greatest American Novel, by saying: “Moby Dick… A Man and a Fish.” What more do you need to know?
Stories are wrong all the time today, and not only does no one seem to care, but more to the point, no one even seems to have expected anything more. Yeah, I guess as long as my newscaster doesn’t vomit on his or her shoes during the broadcast, I’m good to go. It’s not a bar one would think of as towering, to say the least.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “… were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
T.J. was trying to say that “The News” is a very important component of a functioning Democracy. In fact, journalism has been referred to as the craft that provides the lifeblood of a free, democratic society. So, perhaps it should come as little surprise that the absence of “The News,” appears to be slowly rotting our foundation at its core. And I think that today, as a result, we have one of the least politically aware populaces that I can conceive of as even existing.
The Founding Fathers believed that model of self-governance would require active participation by an informed public, which could only be possible if people had unfettered access to information. James Madison, who authored our Constitution’s First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press, had the following to say on the subject:
“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”
So, like I said earlier, I’m not HOPEFUL or optimistic in the short run, and in the long run we’re all dead… and thank you, Professor Keynes.
During the 1960s, 1970s and even most of the 1980s, we still had some idea of what we were or wanted to be as a nation, and we still felt like we actually had a role to play, however small. Today, I’m open to the idea of retiring on the beach in Uruguay, and I didn’t even vote in the last presidential election… first time since I could vote in 1980.
My not voting had nothing to do with Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, by the way. I’m sure we could pretty much flip a coin and get remarkably similar outcomes, wouldn’t you think? No, I didn’t vote because I was in favor of just leaving the position open for a couple of years, until more suitable or at least interesting candidates might be found.
What? Don’t look at me like that… do you really think it would make a difference in your life if we went along without a president for a handful of years? I don’t even think I would notice for most of year one… maybe in year two I might mention not having seen him or her lately, or something like that, while gathered around the dinner table with friends.
Give the networks something juicy to run instead, and they’ll forget all about the State of the Union Address media buys, and few will care about the Commander-in-Chief at all, past the 18-month mark. And in fact, tell you what… put C-Span on a loop and all you guys and gals in congress, go ahead and take off for a year or two, too.
(Not with pay, unfortunately, that rider was actually defeated by a popular vote of the people late last year… didn’t you get the memo? Don’t worry… I’m sure you’ll find a special interest or billionaire constituent to soak for the year or two of living expenses and general graft that must be replaced during the Federal Furlough, we can call it.)
So, okay… you get my point, right? I can shut-up now? Great news.
So, According to Joshua Pollard, the former head of Goldman Sachs’ Housing Research Team, “the United States today is on the brink of a 15 percent decline in home prices over the next three years. In his sobering 18-page report sent directly to the White House on September 17th of this year Pollard warned of a potential downturn in home prices that could put the country back into a recession before the ripples of the previous one settle.”
Overvalued homes, according to this report to President Obama, “make up $23 trillion of consumer asset value and ‘serve as the psychological linchpin’ for $17 trillion of invested capital. Put together, that 15 percent decline would translate to a $3.4 trillion cut to American consumers’ net worth.”
Now, look… I’m not going to quibble over trillions… the salient point is that if Pollard’s forecast were to prove anywhere near accurate, the devastating impact to the U.S. economy would be so immense as to be incalculable.
However, it’s an election year, so absolutely no one is reporting on what the recent report is reporting… it’s as if it never even existed after the day it was reported as having been sent to The White House several weeks back.
On one hand, it absolutely terrifies me to see things like that go on… some from Goldman’s senior team preparing a report for The White House that basically says another financial 9-11 is headed our way, and then having it never be mentioned again.
Was the former Goldman guy who allegedly wrote the report someone’s developmentally challenged 35 year-old son, and not really someone who led a housing markets team at GS? If that’s the case, then I’m sorry for bringing the whole thing up, I did not know.
If that’s not the case, however, and I’m 99 percent sure that’s not the case… then on one hand it’s kind of terrifying to have such reports so flagrantly swept under the rug in the Oval, but on the other hand, what difference does it make? What would I do if the administration said something one way or the other about the contents of the report… counter-party some default swaps to short housing?
Yeah, right. As if my local branch now has a rack brochure extolling the virtues of overnight borrowing in order to invest nine figures and up in opaque derivatives.
Oh well… I can always HOPE, right? Or, is that all I can do… HOPE?