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Flippers Fuel Foreclosures

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By Les ChristieRISMEDIA, September 6, 2007-(CNNMoney.com)–Flippers and other speculators investing in single-family homes helped drive up prices in many hot housing markets during the boom. Now they’re contributing heavily to mortgage delinquencies in several of those markets.

Defaults in non-owner occupied houses are driving defaults in four of the states with the fastest rising default rates in the nation, according to a report released Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Consumers shun adjustable-rate mortgages

“Defaults are on the rise in most parts of the country, but…it is not always the case of a homeowner losing his or her home,” Doug Duncan, the MBA’s chief economist, said in a statement, “but [it's] often the case of an investor gambling on a continued increase in home values and losing that gamble.”

Several sun-belt states were magnets for real estate speculators during the home-price boom. Coastal California led the early charge, but as prices there raced ahead of affordability, many investors abandoned those markets for Central Valley cities as well as Las Vegas, Phoenix and other Arizona towns.

Florida drew droves of investors from the Northeast, who spurred a rash of condo development in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and other coastal towns. Single family home prices were also driven up in towns all over the Sunshine State.

Mortgage applications slip

As of June 30, in Nevada, 32 percent of all prime mortgages in default and 24 percent of subprime defaults were on non-owner occupied properties, according to the MBA. The numbers for Arizona were 26 percent prime and 18 percent subprime. In California, they were 21 percent and 15 percent respectively.

The default rates in Florida for non-owner occupied homes were 25 percent for prime loans and 14 percent for subprime ones.

In the rest of the nation, non-owners accounted for just 13 percent of prime loan defaults and 11 percent of subprime.

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“California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida were among the states with the fastest home price appreciation over the last five years. This…attracted both speculators and home builders, a volatile combination that led to an over-supply of homes that was beyond the capacity of the local populations to support,” Duncan said.

“When this over-supply became apparent and prices began to fall, many of these investors simply walked away from their mortgages.”

In Nevada and Arizona, 29 percent of all the prime mortgage loans written in 2005 were for non-owner occupied home purchases. In California, it was 14 percent and in Florida, a whopping 32 percent, according to the MBA.

The subprime figures for non-owner occupied home purchases were 14 percent in Nevada and Arizona, 15 percent in Florida and 7 percent in California.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2007/08/30/real_estate/flippers_fuel_foreclosures/?postversion=2007083016

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