Responding to the Foreclosure Crisis

Source: James H. Carr, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Testimony before United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, January 29, 2008

Regional economic downturns, speculation on skyrocketing home prices and rampant unfair and deceptive mortgage lending practices have combined to create the perfect foreclosure storm in America. According to the FDIC, there is roughly $1.3 trillion of outstanding subprime mortgage debt (Poirer, 2007). In 2006 alone, more than $600 billion of subprime mortgages were originated (Inside Mortgage Finance, 2006). RealtyTrac data shows roughly 450,000 homes experienced foreclosure in the third quarter of 2007, up a full 100 percent from the same period one year ago (Yoon, 2007). And, although foreclosures are most heavily concentrated in 12 to 20 states, foreclosures are up in 45 of 50 states. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke reported that 21 percent of subprime adjustable-rate mortgages were ninety-days delinquent or more as of January 2008 and according to the Center for Responsible Lending (Center for Responsible Lending) fully one in five subprime loans are expected to fail (Bernanke, 2008; Center for Responsible Lending, 2007). That rate of foreclosure is estimated to translate into more than two million families losing their homes to foreclosure over the next year to 18 months (Center for Responsible Lending, 2007). Estimates of the full economic costs of the foreclosure crisis vary greatly. The projections share, however, a common theme: the prospect of significant financial costs that extent beyond the housing market.

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