Foreclosure halt could hit US investors


  • Business
  • Wednesday, 13 Oct 2010

WASHINGTON: A United States-wide foreclosure moratorium could penalise pension funds, insurance companies and other investors and make new loans more expensive, an investor group and industry experts warned on Monday.

Temporary pauses in foreclosures have expanded among major lenders as the courts, lawmakers and state attorneys general investigate whether banks supplied shoddy paperwork to support evictions of delinquent borrowers.

While homeowners may cheer efforts to get tough with banks, an increasing number of analysts warn that that a blanket ban on foreclosures could further hobble the economy.

A major securities lobbying group said on Monday that a US-wide foreclosure moratorium would be “catastrophic.”

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) said foreclosure processing mistakes should be fixed but said dramatic nationwide action could unjustly impose losses on the investors who help provide credit to the US$11 trillion US mortgage market.

“It is imperative ... that care be taken in addressing these issues to ensure that no unnecessary damage is done to an already weak housing market and, in turn, that there is no further negative impact on the economy,” SIFMA chief executive Tim Ryan said in a statement.

Disclosures that some big mortgage processors filed affidavits without proper scrutiny in thousands of foreclosure cases has drawn calls from some prominent lawmakers and civil rights groups for foreclosures to be halted in all 50 states.

Moody’s Corp warned on Monday that most residential mortgage-backed securities could see losses increase because of delays in foreclosures. Moody’s said in its weekly credit outlook that foreclosure delays would impose higher carrying costs on loans and reduce the ultimate recovery amount once the properties are liquidated.

Bank of America, the nation’s largest mortgage servicer, said on Friday it would temporarily halt foreclosures nationwide as it reviews its foreclosure processes.

JPMorgan and Ally Financial Inc’s GMAC Mortgage have announced partial moratoriums, but some other leading mortgage servicers have said they have no plans for a systematic halt.

White House adviser David Axelrod said on Sunday he was “not sure” about a national halt to foreclosures. — Reuters

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