Home Foreclosures accounted for 28 percent of all home sales

The housing market continues to look very bad.

Sales of homes in some stage of foreclosure declined in the first three months of the year, but they still accounted for 28 percent of all home sales — a share nearly six times higher than what it would be in a healthy housing market.
Foreclosure sales, which include homes purchased after they received a notice of default or were repossessed by lenders, hit the highest share of overall sales in a year during the first quarter, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
"It's an astronomically high number," said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. "In a normal market, you're looking at the percentage of homes sold in foreclosure to be below 5 percent."
The pace at which homes are entering the foreclosure process has slowed in recent months amid bank and court delays. But distressed properties remain a fixture of a housing market still searching for a sustained recovery. The properties, often in need of repair, typically sell at a discount, weakening prices for other types of homes. . . .

No end in sight to foreclosure quagmire

House prices are falling again, forcing more homeowners “underwater” — owing more than their house is worth. . . . “Right now, it’s the second-biggest drag on the economy after the surge in oil prices,” said Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi.
Already some 5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure; estimates of future foreclosures range widely. Zandi, who has followed the mortgage mess since the housing market began to crack in 2006, figures foreclosures will strike another three million homes in the next three or four years. . . .
The government's efforts to stem the crisis are widely viewed as a failure. Its flagship foreclosure relief program, the Home Affordable Modification Program, has been hampered by confusion over its terms, lenders’ widespread refusal to forgive loan principal and a “trial modification” process that, in some cases, leaves homeowners worse off than when they entered the program. . . .

Calls for more government action ignores the fact that government intervention has caused so much of the problem. For example, government pressure for loan principal forgiveness doesn't exactly encourage more loans being made.



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