Thursday, March 30, 2006

More Foreclosures In New Hampshire: Officials

New Hampshire public radio has this report on foreclosures. "Several counties in New Hampshire are following what seems to be a national trend. They're reporting increases in real estate foreclosures in early 2006. That pattern is causing some economists to worry that bigger and more exotic mortgages may be the cause."

"Real estate foreclosures haven't been a problem in New Hampshire since the early 1990s. That's when Leo Lessard first took over the job of Registrar of Deeds in Strafford County. He says he sees a trend developing now that reminds him of that time. "'Last year we had 40 foreclosures. and what disturbed me is this year, the first two months of this year, we've seen 19. So we almost had half the number of foreclosures in the first two months of this year than we had all of last year.'"

"Other counties in Southern New Hampshire are also seeing the same kind of increases. Rising interest rates have hurt other property owners, because they signed up for adjustable rate mortgages. There have been 10 foreclosures in Merrimack County in the first two months of 2006. Kathi Guay, Merrimack's Register of Deeds, says that's several more than there were in the same period last year."

"Mike Fratantoni, Senior Economist of the Mortgage Association, says the report found New Hampshire to be better off than the rest of the nation. In the 4th quarter of 05, the total past due rate, so, at any level of delinquency, was 3.59 percent for NH, compared to 4.7 percent for the country as a whole. and a similar relationship in terms of foreclosure rates. the foreclosure inventory for the country as a whole was 0.99 percent, and it was 0.43 percent for new hampshire."

"New Hampshire's delinquency and foreclosure rates are also among the lowest in New England. But they have inched up a bit since the end of 2004. Federal data indicates house prices in the state have increased about ten percent since then, and that could be adding to the foreclosure increases."

"Adjustable rate mortgages could be heading even higher, and soon. The Federal Reserve Board has raised the federal fund rate a quarter of a percent. If Fratantoni is correct, that could soon send some holders of adjustable rate mortgages to the bank to refinance their loans. If the Mortgage Association predictions are off, however, more families with these mortgages may find their houses suddenly unaffordable."


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