July 24, 2007

Three bits of miscellany, for your review: Countrywide Mortgage, one of the nation's largest prime lenders for homes, saw its profits fall by a third in the last quarter, with one out of twenty-two loans now being in default; in Southern California, a record number of foreclosures occurred in the second quarter of 2007, with 17,408 homes being lost, an 800% increase over last year; and bankruptcy filings have more than doubled in the Central District of California so far in 2007.

Of course, bankruptcy filings in 2006 were at historic lows, in the aftermath of YBK and the passage of the new law, and the current totals are still well off the figures from the pre-BARF era. But in some areas of the country, the collapse of the real estate bubble is sparking a renewed rush to the bankruptcy courthouse. Locally, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are the new hubs of the debt relief bar, as those two rapidly expanding centers of exurban population growth witness a Perfect Storm: an oversupply of housing combined with an accelerating rate of defaults in mortgages, together with a sharp collapse in the value of homes which makes refinancing impossible. Anyone who refinanced since 2002, and/or has an adjustable rate loan, the only thing to do is pray.

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