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Mortgage Fraud Edges Higher

CoreLogic index up 1%

November 15, 2006

By staff

Mortgage fraud and loan delinquency risk edged up over the quarter, with Ohio cities dominating as the top hot spots in the nation.

In the third quarter, the Core Mortgage Risk Monitor posted a 1 percent rise from the prior quarter, CoreLogic announced. Considering that over the last year the risk index has risen an average of 4 percent per quarter, the smaller increase in the last quarter may indicate that the risk of mortgage fraud and loan delinquency causing economic impact in vulnerable markets is finally slowing.

CoreLogic said its risk monitor uses proprietary data to examine 379 metropolitan statistical areas and forecast geographic "housing hot spots" most likely to experience the economic consequences of increased levels of mortgage risk and fraudulent activity over the next 18 months.

The risk index posted its eighth consecutive increase during the latest quarter, CoreLogic's Chief Economist Mark Fleming said in the announcement. "However, while mortgage risk levels remain relatively high, we are seeing a stabilizing housing market characterized by decreasing house price appreciation and a slower increase in the risk index."

Among the largest metro areas, Akron, Ohio, moved up three spots from the prior quarter to top the list of the five markets most at risk, followed by Dayton, Ohio. The Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn area, which topped the list in the second quarter, came in at No. 3 this time around. Memphis, Tenn., moved down two spots to No. 4 and Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio, debuted in the top five by replacing Gary, Ind., according to the announcement.

CoreLogic noted that mortgage risk, including fraudulent activity, may appear in markets that have experienced robust house price appreciation or in those experiencing economic stress and lacking appreciation.

For example, a number of markets most at risk in Ohio and Michigan have experienced some economic setbacks such as job distress, the statement said. In Florida, where house price appreciation has been strong, markets are showing relatively high levels of mortgage risk -- most notably in Jacksonville. The market in Albuquerque, N.M., is experiencing an increased level of mortgage risk at a time of decelerating house price appreciation.

The findings also indicated brakes are on in house price appreciation, CoreLogic said. While the majority of markets are posting positive appreciation at decelerating rates, Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth, Texas, and Kansas City, were identified as four major markets showing declining house prices. Markets with the strongest deceleration included San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego, Calif.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Sarasota, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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