Home prices drop as foreclosure rates soar

House in foreclosure

Foreclosure rates are on the rise. / Image: The-Lane-Team/Flickr/CC BY-ND

The price of homes continues to fall in the U.S. as foreclosure rates grow. This is good news for home buyers looking for a bargain. However, if you are looking to sell, it may be advantageous to wait a little longer.

FHFA report shows sharp drop

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reports this week that its home-price index fell in the current quarter faster than at any time since 2008. Prices have fallen 2.5 percent in the last quarter, which is a drop of 5.5 percent from last year. The report, however, covers only homes purchased with mortgages provided by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It excludes cash only sales.

Foreclosures remain a key factor

FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco said, “In many local real estate markets, particularly those hit hard by this cycle, foreclosures and other distressed properties are still a key factor in recorded and anticipated future sales and may be delaying price stability or recovery.” The prices of homes in foreclosure are dropping, according to RealtyTrac. The average sales price was $168,321 during the first quarter, which is a 1.89  percent drop from the previous quarter, and 1.46 percent from a year ago. And because foreclosures lower the value of other homes in their neighborhood, they affect the rest of the index as well.

Fewer foreclosures going to third parties

“While foreclosure sales continue to account for an unusually high percentage of all residential home sales, sales volume is well off the peak we saw in the first quarter of 2009, when nearly 350,000 foreclosure properties were sold to third parties,” reported James Saccacio, the CEO of RealtyTrac. During the first quarter, 158,434 homes in various stages of foreclosure were sold to third parties during the first quarter, which is a drop of 16 percent from the previous quarter and 36 percent from a year ago.

Foreclosures rates vary by state

The percentages of houses on the market because of foreclosure varies by state. In Ohio and Illinois it was 41 percent. California and Arizona had foreclosure rates of 45 percent. In Nevada, foreclosures were 53 percent of the market.

Beware of foreclosure scams

This trend has brought out higher numbers of foreclosure rescue scams. These scams involve upfront fees for promises of foreclosure prevention that never happen, leaving the distressed homeowners high and dry. In February the Federal Trade Commission began prohibiting upfront fees to negotiate mortgage reduction plans.


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