Weaknesses and Strengths Are Battling Each Other in Housing
The bad news is that the $800 million taken out in home equity at the end of 2008 has now fallen into the negative withdrawal range, said Molly Boesel, director of economics of Fannie Mae's strategy execution and transformation group. That is the offshoot of people becoming more diligent about paying down debt. And, lower homeownership rates may not continue to stop any real big bounce in the market, she acknowledged.
"There is no real evidence that foreclosures are peaking," said Boesel speaking at the Georgia Central Credit Union Economic Symposium last week. "They're the highest they've been since being tracked."
A promising sign is that revisions to new home sales are turning positive, she noted, adding that Fannie Mae and the Census Bureau are looking more closely at this area. The sales of new and existing homes are starting to show signs of bottoming with the latter group bolstered by the record number of foreclosures.
Meanwhile, it's not that consumers don't want to refinance; job losses and expensive upfront costs are preventing them from doing so, Boesel said. Inertia and yield curves are also an issue even as warehouse funding and origination capacity have delayed refinancing efforts.
Boesel said that while she didn't know the exact number of delinquent Fannie Mae loans, the rate has "definitely been going up since the end of 2008." Subprime loans now account for 20% to 30% of all foreclosures, she noted.