By Daren Blomquist, Staff Writer
A growing number of delinquencies and foreclosures on government-backed loans - combined with generous incentives for purchasing foreclosed homes owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD - means buyers and investors will have plenty of opportunities in the coming months to pick up properties at bargain prices with low down payments and preferred financing.
The two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) - Fannie and Freddie - are acquiring real estate owned (REO) properties through foreclosure at a significantly faster pace than overall growth in REO activity based on RealtyTrac data from the second quarter. Fannie Mae took ownership of 68,838 REO properties in the second quarter, an increase of 114 percent from the second quarter of 2009, while Freddie Mac took ownership of 34,662, a 58 percent increase from the previous year.
Overall, REO activity was up 38 percent over the same time period, according to RealtyTrac, and the two GSEs together accounted for 38 percent of the total 269,962 REOs reported by RealtyTrac in the second quarter. Throw in the 23,435 foreclosed properties acquired by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through Federal Housing Administration-backed loans gone bad, and the three "Fs" accounted for 47 percent of all REO activity in the second quarter.
That's good news for homebuyers and residential real estate investors.
Indeed, both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have acknowledged that these delayed foreclosures will increase in the months ahead. Moreover, Fannie, Freddie and the FHA all reported spiking pre-foreclosure sales, or short sales, over the past year - although the numbers of sales are still relatively low. FHA reported a 161 percent increase, Fannie a 171 percent increase and Freddie a 179 percent increase.
Both the FHA and Fannie Mae have favorable financing for homebuyers and investors.
FHA financing is available on the HUD properties, including programs that benefit borrowers with less- than-ideal credit and require only a 3.5 percent down payment. In addition, buyers may be able to take advantage of the FHA 203(k) rehab loan program, which allows an owner-occupant borrower to get one loan that covers both the acquisition and rehabilitation of a foreclosed property that is need of repair.
Fannie Mae offers special financing for both buyers and investors for many properties it lists for sale. The special financing includes down payments as low as 3 percent, no mortgage insurance and no appraisal requirements.
And Fannie Mae and FHA have programs in place to encourage buyers and renters using a local Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), a federally funded initiative that provides grants to state and local governments, as well as non-profit developers, to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosure properties and offer down payment and closing cost assistance to low- to middle-income homebuyers.
Fannie Mae waives the 5 percent earnest money deposit requirement for individual homebuyers using public funds to purchase a Fannie-Mae owned property. Deposits can be as low as $500. In addition, buyers using NSP programs have 15 extra days for closing and the ability to renegotiate their offer after obtaining an NSP-required appraisal.
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