Nationwide foreclosure activity is at its lowest point since 2007. The amount of auctions, defaults, and repossessions have substantially decreased across the country. Only 17% of all mortgaged homes are seriously underwater as opposed to 29% in 2012, and negative equity is down overall.
It is anticipated that we will also start to see a decline in short sales in 2014 due to two major reasons:
a. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act has not been passed for 2014. This means that borrowers are liable for the income tax on the forgiven debt in a short sale. In many cases, this kind of tax bill is too high and the borrower must default on his or her tax bill. The IRS can subsequently garnish wages, freeze bank accounts, and place liens on assets without having to first obtain a judgment. Many borrowers are unwilling to put themselves in such a position and would rather let the property go to foreclosure than to have the IRS go after them for money they do not have.
b. Lenders are less likely to approve short sales today because they know they can successfully sell the properties at auction or as an REO (bank-owned property) at a higher price because fair market value for real estate is on the increase.
Please note that the total amount of foreclosures (percentage of units by area) in Suffolk County is higher than the national average and the New York State average, and the amount of Suffolk County homes in pre-foreclosure is on the rise. Overall, however, foreclosure auctions are down in Suffolk County just as the rest of the nation. Keep this in mind, brokers, as you navigate the real estate in Suffolk County.