Distress sales as a whole are falling but short sales are declining twice as fast as fewer homeowners are losing their homes over the past year.
For the 12-month period ending in June 2013, distressed sales overall (including both REO and short sales) were down nearly 30 percent from the same period ending in June 2012 — from 650,000 to 463,000. Of these, short sales had declined significantly — by nearly 60 percent — accounting for just over 46,000 sales during that timeframe as compared to 104,000 in 2012 according to residential real estate transaction data from the LPS Home Price Index.
Short sales rose and fell quickly. In the first quarter of 2012, some 109,521 properties were sold in pre-foreclosure — a proxy for short sales, according to RealtyTrac. At that time, LPS reported a 25 percent increase from the same quarter the previous year and a three-year high and for the first time, short sale transactions are exceeding foreclosure deals. In January, short sales made up 23.9 percent of home purchases, according to LPS. Meanwhile, foreclosures made up 19.7 percent of sales. Just one year prior, in the first quarter of 2011, foreclosures made up the bulk at 24.9 percent of transactions while short sales made up 16.3 percent.
LPS’ July Mortgage Monitor report also found that while loan origination volume had slowed slightly from May to June, overall activity remained relatively strong. According to LPS Data & Analytics Senior Vice President Herb Blecher, prepayment activity (historically a good indicator of mortgage refinances) is still largely driving origination volume, as has been the case for some time now.
“Prepayment speeds have been impacted by the sharp increase in mortgage interest rates we’ve seen over the last couple months,” Blecher said. “However, even with that increasing interest rate pressure, July’s monthly prepayment rates are still about where they were this time last year, when rates were at historic lows. In fact, they are roughly at the same levels as the heights of the ‘mini refinance booms’ in 2010 — when interest rates were comparable to where they are today — and in 2009, when rates were even higher. Of course, as interest rates continue to climb, we can expect that both prepayments and associated originations will decline. It’s notable however, that we saw an increase in prepayment activity in July among higher loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages — those with LTVs of 100 percent or more — indicating continued HARP refinance activity.