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Shadow Inventory Slowly Fades

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By Steve Cook

RISMEDIA, June 24, 2011—The so-called “shadow inventory” of foreclosures—properties in the foreclosure pipeline but not yet listed on multiple listings services—slowly sank over the past year but still amount to five months’ worth of home sales.

The inventory fell from 1.9 million homes a year ago to 1.7 million in April, according to the latest report from CoreLogic, who attributed the decline to fewer new delinquencies over 90 days and a high level of distressed sales, which helped reduce the number of outstanding distressed loans.

The shadow inventory nationally peaked in January 2010 at 2 million units, 8.5 months’ supply, and stands 18 percent lower today than it was in April 2011. The total shadow and visible inventory was 5.7 million units in April 2011, down from 6.2 million units a year ago. The decline occurred in both the visible and shadow inventories.

Of the 1.7 million current shadow inventory supply, 790,000 units are seriously delinquent (2.6 months’ supply), 440,000 are in some stage of foreclosure (1.4 months’ supply) and 440,000 are already in REO (1.4 months’ supply).

In addition to the current shadow inventory, there are 2 million current negative equity mortgages that are “upside down” by more than 50 percent or $150,000. These current but underwater loans have increased the risk of entering the shadow inventory if the owners’ ability to pay is impaired while significantly underwater.

Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, commented, “The shadow inventory has declined by nearly one-fifth since it peaked in early 2010, in large part due to a reduced flow of newly delinquent loans in recent months. However, it will probably take several years for the shadow inventory to be absorbed given the long timelines in processing and completing foreclosures.”

Currently the shadow inventory accounts for 29 percent of the combined shadow and visible inventories.

For more information, visit www.realestateeconomywatch.com.

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