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processes of their service providers relating to the execution of affidavits in connection with the foreclosure process. Although servicers have indicated that they have generally lifted their broad, formal foreclosure pauses, the processing of foreclosures continues to be delayed or halted in many states.
A number of states have changed their foreclosure laws or implemented new court rules or proceedings in response to the servicer foreclosure process deficiencies. These actions have halted or significantly delayed the processing of foreclosures in those states. In addition, servicers continue to process foreclosures at a slow pace, as they work to update their procedures to respond to the recent changes in foreclosure laws and court rules, as well as to remediate the deficiencies in their foreclosure procedures.
The changing foreclosure environment has significantly lengthened the time it takes to foreclose on a mortgage loan in many states, which has increased our credit-related expenses and negatively affected our single-family serious delinquency rates. In addition, our single-family foreclosure rate has decreased from 1.45% for the first half of 2010 to 1.20% for the first half of 2011. We believe these changes in the foreclosure environment will continue to negatively affect our single-family serious delinquency rates, foreclosure timelines and credit-related expenses. Moreover, we believe these changes in the foreclosure environment will delay the recovery of the housing market because it will take longer to clear the housing market’s supply of distressed homes. Distressed homes typically sell at a discount to non-distressed homes and therefore negatively affect overall home prices. See “Risk Factors” for further information about the potential impact of the foreclosure process deficiencies and resulting changes in the foreclosure environment on our business, results of operations, financial condition and net worth.
Housing and Mortgage Market and Economic Conditions
During the second quarter of 2011, the United States economic recovery continued at a very slow pace. The inflation-adjusted U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, rose by 1.3% on an annualized basis during the quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis advance estimate. The overall economy gained an estimated 260,000 jobs in the second quarter as a result of employment growth in the private sector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of June 2011, over the past 12 months there has been an increase of 1.2 million non-farm jobs. The unemployment rate was 9.2% in June 2011, compared with 8.8% in March 2011, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment will likely need to post sustained improvement for an extended period to have a positive impact on housing.
Existing home sales remained weak during the second quarter of 2011, averaging below first quarter levels. Sales of foreclosed homes and short sales (“distressed sales”) continued to represent an outsized portion of the market. Distressed sales accounted for 30% of existing home sales in June 2011, down from 32% in June 2010, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. While new home sales during the second quarter of 2011 were higher than first quarter levels, these sales remained at historically low levels.
The overall mortgage market serious delinquency rate has trended down since peaking in the fourth quarter of 2009 but has remained historically high at 8.1% as of March 31, 2011, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey. While the supply of new single-family homes as measured by the inventory/sales ratio declined to its long-term average level in June, the inventory/sales ratio for existing single-family homes remained above average. Properties that are vacant and held off the market, combined with the portion of properties backing seriously delinquent mortgages not currently listed for sale, represent a significant shadow inventory putting downward pressure on home prices.
We estimate that home prices on a national basis increased by 1.8% in the second quarter of 2011 and have declined by 21.6% from their peak in the third quarter of 2006. Our home price estimates are based on preliminary data and are subject to change as additional data become available. The decline in home prices has left many homeowners with “negative equity” in their mortgages, which means their principal mortgage balance exceeds the current market value of their home. According to CoreLogic, approximately 11 million, or 23%, of all residential properties with mortgages were in a negative equity position in the first quarter of 2011. This increases the risk that borrowers might walk away from their mortgage obligations, causing the loans to become delinquent and proceed to foreclosure.