Will Strategic Defaulters Be the Next Credit Union Market?
An executive whose previous firm advised homeowners looking to walk away from their mortgages says credit unions and other financial institutions should consider many of those same homeowners as potential new mortgage borrowers.
Jon Maddux is founder and former CEO of YouWalkAway.com, a website that provided advice and counsel to homeowners who were seeking to abandon mortgages that had come to cost far more than their underlying real estate was worth.
Maddux has left daily operation of YouWalkAway.com but has started a similar site, AfterForeclosure.com, which advises consumers who lost homes to foreclosures and short sales to get back into the housing market.
Unlike YouWalkAway.com, which was subscription based, AfterForeclosure.com is free, and Maddux said he launched it after numbers of former clients of YouWalkAway had sought information about they could purchase another home.
YouWalkAway had between 7,000 and 8,000 clients, and the firm determined that, far from being averse to the mortgage market, almost 80% of its former clients surveyed expressed a desire to purchase another home within a year after losing the first one in a foreclosure, short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure.
The company has launched an application that contains a survey that aims to help homeowners who have lost their previous get a better understanding of when and under what conditions they might be able to rejoin the housing market.
“There needs to be a way for people to easily see if they are eligible to buy again,” Maddux in a prepared statement about the application. “Millions have experienced the unfortunate event of foreclosure but that does not mean that they should be discouraged from becoming homeowners again in a more stable environment or that they should be disqualified from doing so. With historically low interest rates, mortgage payments often rival rental rates. The ability to lock in these reduced rates puts more money in consumer pockets and, ultimately, lends to overall recovery. It’s a win-win and its accessibility needs to be made clear.”
The firm said the application has already had about 2,000 downloads and, of those, about 30% to 40% of users are discovering they could re-enter the market.
“It is important to note the primary reason why buyers don’t pass is because they haven’t had enough time pass since the foreclosure or short sale,” wrote Bethany Branscum
director of operations for the firm in response to a question about the application. “Most borrowers need at least 36 months after the foreclosure and 24 months after the short sale in order to pass the app,” she added.
Further, Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, a firm which tracks foreclosure statistics reported that should credit unions want to start reaching out to formerly foreclosed borrowers, they would find a population of roughly 7.1 million people with a steadily growing percentage of them eligible to enter the market as their waiting periods expire.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have rules that preclude a borrower who has had a foreclosure from obtaining a mortgage for seven years, but the Federal Housing Administration will insure a mortgage loan with a formerly foreclosed borrower after only three years, and Maddux said that should enable a credit union to sell the loan.
And Maddux pointed out that many of these borrowers are in good financial condition. Many have taken to money they had previously deployed in mortgage payments and used it to both pay other bills on time and also pay down other debts, strengthening their scores from the credit bureaus.
Maddux maintained that many of these consumers are not necessarily bad credit risks and should not be penalized solely for their foreclosures. “If they have a long history of making their other payments on time, they are not deadbeats,” he said.