By Peter Ricci
According to analysis of government documents, the three big government housing institutes – Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – have decreased their REO housing inventory by more than 18 percent from last year.
Based on analysis by the folks at HousingWire, the three housing giants currently own some 202,764 REO properties, a decline of nearly 50,000 from last summer.
Promising REO Statistics
The REO holdings of Fannie, Freddie and HUD differ in number, but one thing is consistent – all have posted impressive declines in the last year.
- Fannie, with 109,266 REOs at the end of 2012’s second quarter, owns the most distressed properties, but that number is down from 135,000 last year. In the second quarter alone, as we reported, it sold nearly 5,000 more REOs than it acquired.
- Of the three, Freddie had the least impressive showing, shedding nearly 8,000 properties and dropping its total inventory to 53,282.
- The best declines, actually, came from HUD, which decreased its REO statistics by 24 percent to just 40,216 properties. As HousingWire notes, though, and as we noted just yesterday, foreclosures have ticked up somewhat at the FHA in 2012, so it will be interesting to see where those numbers are at the end of the third quarter.
The Housing Bottom – Then, Recovery?
As Frank Nothaft, Freddie’s chief economist, noted in a Wednesday report, the number of excess vacant homes for sale in the U.S. has fallen by 30 percent from 2008, and as we’ve noted again and again, balancing inventories will only aid the U.S. housing market as it slowly recovers.
“Less excess vacant stock plus fewer REOs enhances market values,” he said. “Recent data continues to suggest that the bottom in the U.S. house-value cycle may have been reached.”
Tom Plant, an agent with Greenwood King Properties in Greenway, said that his particular niche in Houston has largely avoided the distressed property boom, and fewer than 2 percent of the Bayou City’s foreclosures occurred in the Loop 610 region he covers.
“The REO problems felt elsewhere in the nation have had little or no effect upon Houston’s more expensive neighborhoods inside Loop 610,” Plant said.