A month ago, when RealtyTrac posted their latest US foreclosure numbers for the month of August, we presented what we called was the "Foreclosure Stuffing" thesis, explaining the explicit subsidy by the banks for the housing market, whereby the entire foreclosure process has now ground to a halt, and in doing so removing millions in inventory flow from the distressed end market, forcing limited buyers to chase what supply there is, and in the process boosting prices of existing inventory higher. In other words a traditional inventory removal-based subsidy. It is therefore not surprising that today RealtyTrac reported the latest foreclosure data, and lo and behold, just as we expected, the great foreclosure collapse has taken another leg lower, with the total number of foreclosures for the month of September sliding to 180.4K, a decrease of 7 percent from the previous month and down 16 percent from September 2011, and the lowest in five years!
Needless to say, this is a housing subsidy process by the big banks, pure and simple, because while the robosigning scandal halted foreclosures, the resulting settlement was supposed to fix the situation and unclog the foreclosure pipeline. It never did. The result is a complete halt of the critical foreclosure pipeline at the national level. Even RealtyTrac's attempt to spin the news in a favorable fashion fails miserably: "We’ve been waiting for the other foreclosure shoe to drop since late 2010, when questionable foreclosure practices slowed activity to a crawl in many areas, but that other shoe is instead being carefully lowered to the floor and therefore making little noise in the housing market — at least at a national level,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Make no mistake, however, the other shoe is dropping quite loudly in certain states, primarily those where foreclosure activity was held back the most last year."
There is spin, and then there is reality. The reality is shown below.
Just foreclosure starts:
And the ultimate reason: days to foreclose in various states, with California on top of course, is now nearly 3 years. From RealtyTrac:
U.S. properties foreclosed in the third quarter took an average of 382 days to complete the foreclosure process, up from 378 days in the previous quarter and up from 336 days in the third quarter of 2011. It was the highest average number of days to foreclose going back to the first quarter of 2007.
The average time to complete a foreclosure increased substantially from a year ago in several states where recent legislation and court rulings have extended the foreclosure process. These states included Oregon (up 62 percent to 193 days), Hawaii (up 62 percent to 662 days), Washington (up 62 percent to 248 days) and Nevada (up 42 percent to 520 days).
The average time to foreclose decreased from a year ago in 15 states, including Arkansas (down 49 percent to 199 days), Michigan (down 15 percent to 226 days), Maryland (down 9 percent to 541 days), California (down 8 percent to 335 days), and New Jersey (down 4 percent to 931 days).
New Jersey documented the second longest state foreclosure timeline in the third quarter behind New York, where the average time to complete a foreclosure was 1,072 days for properties foreclosed during the quarter. Florida registered the third highest state foreclosure timeline, 858 days — down slightly from 861 days in the previous quarter — and Illinois registered the fourth highest state foreclosure timeline, 673 days.
One wonders just how very busy Wells Fargo must be to make sure nobody has a real bearing on its balance sheet in order to keep people who have stopped paying mortgages in 2009 still in their houses, and living mortgage free.