Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

February 18, 2014

The State of the Foreclosure Crisis

By David Reiss

Rob Pitingolo of the Urban Institute issued State of the Foreclosure Crisis: Past the Peak but Not Recovered. It opens,

Much attention has been given to statistics that show new foreclosure activity nationally has slowed over the past few years. When it comes to metropolitan area markets, however, some have gotten worse, while others have stagnated. It is not simple enough to declare an end to the foreclosure and delinquency crisis when there are as many as a quarter (25%) of metro areas that have not yet begun their recovery. (1)

It continues,

the rate of 90 day or more delinquency steadily fell in 2010 and 2011, ending at 3.1% in September 2013. In contrast, the foreclosure inventory only turned the corner in mid -2012, and is still higher than the March 2009 level at 4.5%, around seven times the pre-crisis level. Historically, a foreclosure inventory under 1% is what we would expect in “normal” market conditions.” (1, footnote omitted)

It concludes, “attention must be paid to individual metropolitan housing markets. Some are in much better shape than others; and some have made great strides since the peak of serious delinquency in December 2009. However, it may be premature to declare the problem is “ending” until all metro area markets show signs of recovery.” (2) The report identifies the starkest differences in metro areas:

Three geographic regions were hard hit at the beginning of the foreclosure crisis: California metros, Florida metros, and “Rust Belt” metros (those in Midwest states like Ohio, Michigan and Indiana). All three of those regions have seen solid improvements since December 2009.

On the other hand, the Northeast has generally performed poorly in the past several years. Serious delinquency rates in major metropolitan markets like New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore have all worsened since December 2009. Other metro areas in New York like Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse have similarly struggled, as have metro areas surrounding New York like New Jersey and Connecticut. (5)

The report concludes with a call for a nuanced response to the current state of the foreclosure crisis:  “communities need strong examples to build upon, rigorous data and analysis, and a commitment to evidence-based policymaking that strives toward the best fit between policy solutions and policy problems.” (6) This seems like the right call and the appropriate response to headlines that report the national trend without mentioning the variations among metro areas.

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