Good land values could be prompting faster foreclosure filings in state
Higher income stability in a tough overall job market, good property values and low interest rates have contributed to Connecticut having one of the lowest mortgage delinquency rates and one of the highest rates of new foreclosure filings in the nation.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said Connecticut ranked 30th in the nation for mortgage delinquencies with 7.21 percent of people paying late in the second quarter, slightly lower than the first quarter. And it found the rate of foreclosure filings, at 0.97 percent of all loans, was the 13th highest in the nation.
By the end of the second quarter, the MBA said 4.73 percent of all loans in the state were in foreclosure, which is up 0.37 percent from the first quarter.
Nationally, the delinquency rate was 8.11 percent, new foreclosures were 0.96 percent and the number of loans in foreclosure was 4.43 percent.
"Twenty percent of homes are under water here, with about 10 percent where their mortgage is more than 120 percent of the value of their home," said Ryan Raveis, executive vice president of William Raveis Mortgage. "You'd think there would be more foreclosures ... Connecticut is unique, there is still a good job market in relation to the nation and people are still paying their mortgages."
Raveis said about half of Raveis' mortgage business is in refinancing for people who have been able to hang onto good paying jobs through the downturn.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released this month, despite an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, the median annual salary in the state for all workers climbed to $51,920 in 2010 from $43,460 the previous year. Big gains were seen in management and other jobs that carry higher salaries, according to the report.
While Raveis uses other lending reports to track trends in the market, he said, the trend of slower delinquency appears to be in line with a job market that has solidified.
Joan Carty, president and chief executive of the Stamford-based Housing Development Fund, said that just one family going through foreclosure is one too many.
HDF is a nonprofit lender that also provides foreclosure mitigation and house-purchase counseling.
She said housing values, which have also held up relatively well compared to the nation, are one reason the foreclosure start rate is faster than the U.S. rate.
The median sales price for a home in the Bridgeport-Stamford metro region was $407,100, the fifth highest in the nation, according to the National Association of Realtors. New Jersey and New York, which both have metro areas that reported higher median sales prices than Bridgeport-Stamford, also had higher foreclosure rates in the report. Florida also had a higher rate of foreclosures as did Nevada.
"Lenders are more aggressive in foreclosing when they think there is equity in a home," Carty said. "That can be a cruel reality in a state like Connecticut."
Paul Timpanelli, president and chief executive of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and a former official and real estate professional, said the data reflects a problem of stagnation that goes beyond housing. While there has been some stability in Connecticut with a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, the lack of job growth is troubling, he said.
"If we're not growing jobs, if we're not growing business, we're not growing housing," he said.