Where the foreclosure crisis goes from here
Which way do you see the national foreclosure drama headed: Getting better? Or worse?
There was grist for both arguments in the first-quarter Mortgage Bankers Association numbers, released Wednesday.
On the one hand, Maryland's total delinquencies fell compared with the fourth quarter -- coming at a time when job numbers started growing again. The "but" waiting to strike at that bit of good news is that first-quarter delinquencies almost always fall compared with the fourth quarter, as some borrowers catch up from budgetary hits at the end of the year such as first heating bills. (An exception: Last year, when delinquencies rose in defiance of trends.)
On the "getting worse" side, Maryland homeowners whose lenders have started foreclosure proceedings now total 4 percent of all borrowers -- a record. The state's increase in foreclosure starts was one of the largest in the nation.
Of course, there's a "but" there, too. Mediation legislation was wending its way through the General Assembly during the first quarter, so some of that rise could be lenders deciding to start foreclosure proceedings with long-delinquent borrowers before anything took effect.
The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, meanwhile, crunched sales numbers to see how much of the market is bank-owned properties and short sales. It's significant. Check it out in today's mortgage delinquency story.