In a recent blog post by CoreLogic, the real estate consultancy has determined the regions of the U.S. that have the highest correlation with the National Mortgage Fraud Risk index. The regions that are most highly correlated with fraud risk are areas that will be the best predictors of nationwide mortgage fraud. In fact, one can look at a few highly correlated regions to predict fraud risk on a national scale.
The heatmap (figure 3) shows the correlation of each region to the National Trend. Mousing over a region shows the region name, the tracking score, and the percentage level of the lowest to highest possible tracking score (-1.0 to 1.0). The heatmap has two layers (that can be toggled in the top-right menu of the map), one for state and one for CBSA. The CBSAs are limited to the top 50 CBSAs based on population.
California and Maryland have the highest correlation with the national trend for risk (see figure 2).
The two states have tracking scores of 0.49 and 0.47 respectfully. To put this in perspective, the next highest correlated state is Massachusetts with a tracking score of 0.1. All other states have a tracking score less than a 0. When California and Maryland are combined by averaging, the tracking score climbs to 0.72. The correlation typically increases the more regions that are added because the national score is a combination of all regions. However, the combined correlation gets worse when combining more states in descending order of correlation. It requires combining more than 6 states before it becomes better than combining California and Maryland alone.
Finding the states that are correlated is good but looking at smaller regions is better. Smaller regions have a reduced number of contributing fraud factors to analyze. Along with the states, CoreLogic also looked at the correlation for metropolitan areas, commonly referred to as core-based statistical areas (CBSA). Utilizing the same process, the number of CBSAs that best fits the national trend can be reduced to three. CBSAs are smaller than states and are less likely to be predictive of the national trend (see figure 1).
However, combining only three CBSAs provide a strong correlation to the National Fraud Risk Trend. The three CBSAs are Baltimore-Columbia-Townson with a tracking score of 0.43, San Francisco-Oakland-Heyward with a tracking score of 0.26, and San Diego-Carlsbad with a tracking score of 1.6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton is the only other CBSA with a tracking score higher than 0. The top 3 CBSAs combined has a tracking score of 0.64. Combining more CBSAs will slightly increase the correlation percentage but not significantly. There are 935 CBSAs in the Nation and the top three most correlated CBSAs only cover 12.2 Million out of 319 Million people (3.8%) in the US.
According to CoreLogic, the national trend is not influenced by the largest population CBSAs as one might expect, due to more fraud instances given a larger volume of mortgages. The top three CBSAs based on population (New York City, Las Angeles, and Chicago) with the highest of the three having a tracking score of -0.96 and a combined tracking score of -1.0. The same is true for CBSA’s with the highest fraud risk (Miami, Daytona Beach, and New York City), each one having a tracking score of -1.0.
Understanding the highly correlated regions helps to identify the contributing factors that lead to fraud. When looking across the nation, the number of potential factors is large and with the combination of the factors, the number becomes very large. This make it almost impossible to find the contributing factors. It is useful to see that the correlated regions are limited to just a couple of CBSA because it might reduce the number of potential factors to the point allowing analysts to identify the contributing factors.
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Meanwhile, a separate analysis from Bankrate has revealed the Top 10 states for mortgage fraud: it found that Florida led the way by a large margin, with eight times the number of expected mortgage fraud investigations, according to the LexisNexis Mortgage Fraud Index. Nevada came in second, with just more than 2.5 times the number of expected investigations. Those two states showed some of the worst declines during the collapse of the housing bubble.
- New Jersey
- New York
The most common type of mortgage fraud involves false information on applications, according to the FBI. This category includes incorrect borrower names, lies about the borrower's job or income, misrepresentations about debts or assets, mismatched signatures, invalid Social Security numbers, and untruths about occupancy -- in other words, the borrower says the home will be a primary residence when it's really an investment property.
Other common types of fraudulent activity include: lying on tax returns and financial statements; Appraisal fraud; False information about the borrower's bank deposits; Faked verifications of employment; Fraudulent escrow or closing documents; Falsified credit documents.