Policy Briefings: Are Delays to the Foreclosure Process a Good Thing?
AbstractThe United States faces a foreclosure crisis. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that slightly more than four percent of the loans in the United States are in the foreclosure process as of the third quarter of 2010. RealtyTrac reported in January 2011 that nearly three million homes received foreclosure filings in 2010. In addition to the current foreclosures, there exist a substantial number of potential foreclosures that will occur in the next several years. Goodman (2010) estimates that there may be another seven million homes that will face foreclosure. CoreLogic estimated that nearly 23 percent of all mortgages are underwater as of the third quarter of 2010. This number spikes in the areas hardest hit by the mortgage crisis. The sheer volume of actual and pending foreclosures coupled with a slowdown in the foreclosure process due to legal and political wrangling has increased the time that a home is in foreclosure. The purpose of this policy briefing is to analyze the economics of delaying the resolution of the foreclosure process. We review the literature relating to the macroeconomic effects of delaying foreclosures. We begin by identifying four types of potential costs of delay. First, foreclosure delays inject uncertainty in the consumer balance sheet, which leads to unnecessary and economically damaging delays in consumption. This reverse-stimulus alone could dwarf any further plausible price effects of delaying foreclosures at this stage of the business cycle. Second, delaying foreclosures could impede new housing construction. Housing construction is predicated upon a positive and consistent upward price gradient in the housing market, which will not be established until the market is cleared of delinquent homes. Third, and similar to a consumer’s balance sheet, delaying foreclosures creates uncertainty in banks’ balance sheets, potentially blocking channels of credit and undermining lending. Fourth, delinquent homes that are heading to foreclosure have been shown to aggravate neighborhood blight.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 641.
Date of creation: Feb 2011
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This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-03-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-MIC-2011-03-05 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-URE-2011-03-05 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
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