Commentary

Shadow Inventory at 7 Million Homes, Over Three Years of Supply

A new report from FitchRatings today finds that the nation’s shadow inventory of homes is roughly 7 million. Furthermore, Fitch projects it will take 40 months to get through all that inventory. The shadow inventory is homes that are currently delinquent (or in foreclosure or ownership by the servicer) and destined to be on the market. From DSNews:

According to the ratings agency, the number of months between the date of the borrower’s last payment and the date of liquidation has steadily increased over the past several years, and is now at more than 18 months on average. Fitch says that is the highest figure on record.

While the volume of newly delinquent mortgages has begun to improve in recent quarters, Fitch says liquidation rates of existing distressed properties have been constrained by weak demand and expanded initiatives to modify loans for troubled borrowers.

On top of that, the agency’s analysts believe the recent discovery of defects in the residential mortgage foreclosure process will further extend liquidation timelines, slowing the resolution of distressed properties in the shadow inventory and preventing home prices from finding a floor.

See the whole article here.

The shadow inventory has been made worse by HAMP and foreclosure moratoriums that have only delayed the inevitable. Some have argued this is okay since it has let a few stay in their homes longer. But by keeping homes off the market the supply of homes is artificially kept lower thereby artificially boosting prices because of supply and demand calculations. Higher prices are also desirable, but not if they are propped up like prices during the bubble because that means they just have to come down again at some point hurting those buying homes right now.

Anthony Randazzo

Anthony Randazzo is director of economic research for Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. His research portfolio is regularly evolving, and he maintains a wide interest in economic policy at both a domestic and international level.

Randazzo is also managing director of the Pension Integrity Project, which provides technical assistance to public sector retirement system stakeholders who are seeking to prevent pension plan insolvency. His research focus on the national public sector pension crisis has a dual focus of identifying the systemic factors that cause public officials to underfund pension obligations as well as studying the processes by which meaningful pension reform can be accomplished. Within the Project he leads the analytics team that develops independent, third party actuarial analysis to stakeholders considering changes to public sector retirement systems.

In addition, Randazzo writes about the moral foundations of economic theory, and is currently developing research on the ways that the moral intuitions of economists influence their substantive findings on topics like income inequality, immigration, or labor policy.

Randazzo's work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Barron's, Bloomberg View, The Washington Times, The Detroit News, Chicago Sun-Times, Orange-County Register, RealClearMarkets, Reason magazine and various other online and print publications.

During his tenure at Reason he has published substantive research on housing finance, financial services regulation, and various other aspects of economic policy at the federal level. And he has written regularly on labor economics, tax policy, privatization, and Turkish-U.S. political and economic issues.

Randazzo has also testified before numerous state and local legislative bodies on pension policy matters, as well as before the House Financial Services Committee on topics related to housing policy and government-sponsored enterprises.

He holds a multidisciplinary M.A. in behavioral political economy from New York University.

Follow Anthony Randazzo on Twitter @anthonyrandazzo