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HUD says loan sales cut losses, foreclosures

WASHINGTON -- The sale of $15.8 billion in nonperforming loans by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) cut losses to its troubled insurance fund and helped stop foreclosure for about 6,400 homeowners, the agency said.

HUD has sold more than 91,000 loans, including almost 53,000 this year.

Half of the about 38,000 loans sold through last year were resolved as of May -- meaning they went through foreclosure or another outcome and are no longer considered nonperforming -- and 34 percent of those resolutions resulted in property seizures being averted, the department said this past week.

“Without the note sale program, all of these loans would be foreclosed upon,” HUD said.

The “program is achieving its anticipated goal of minimizing losses” and providing alternative resolutions to thousands of borrowers at risk of losing their homes, the department said in the report.

HUD began auctioning pools of delinquent mortgages in 2010 as losses to the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) mortgage insurance fund caused by foreclosures mounted.

The HUD report is the first to assess sales results, which are aimed at reducing taxpayer losses at a time when Wall Street firms are trying to profit from the housing recovery by acquiring distressed real estate assets.

The loans, sold in groups of local and national pools, averaged 31 months of delinquency, “meaning these borrowers are destined for foreclosure,” according to the report.

All loans sold since late 2012 included six-month restrictions against foreclosure actions for owner-occupied properties unless there were extenuating circumstances.

Grayken’s company

The largest buyers of the national pools have been Lone Star Funds, founded by billionaire John Grayken; Bayview Asset Management LLC, a Coral Gables, Fla.-based company backed by Blackstone Group LP; and Selene Finance LP, founded by mortgage-bond pioneer Lew Ranieri.

The biggest local-pool buyers have been Los Angeles-based investment company Oaktree Capital Management LP, Bayview and Charlotte, N.C.-based 25 Capital Partners, headed by Shaun Ahmad.

The FHA insurance fund’s loss rates on failed mortgages fell to 52.9 percent in the second quarter of this year from 63.5 percent in the first quarter of 2010, before the agency began auctioning pools of loans, according to the report.

Climbing home values have also lessened the loss rates and spurred bidders for nonperforming-loan pools to raise their offers.

Bids rose to about 60 percent of unpaid principal balances this year from about 40 percent in 2012.

Taxpayer subsidy

The FHA had more than 437,000 seriously delinquent loans as of June 30, according to the MBA.

The administration is a mortgage insurer run by HUD that helps lower-income borrowers buy houses.

Losses of more than $50 billion on mortgages it insured as the housing bubble burst led to a $1.7 billion cash infusion last year, the first taxpayer subsidy in its 80-year history.

Borrowers were more likely to have received an alternative to a foreclosure if their mortgages were part of geographically concentrated pools that required investors to ensure that the loans were resolved in a way that stabilized the neighborhood, according to HUD.

Among the allowable options were selling the loans to owner-occupants or transferring the properties to a community land bank.

In the neighborhood-stabilization pools, 23.5 percent of resolved loans reperformed, meaning the owners resumed paying their debt after a modification, while just 8.7 percent of loans in pools without the restrictions reperformed.

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