The number of borrowers in coronavirus-related mortgage relief programs fell for the second straight week. There are 4.66 million borrowers in government or private-sector forbearance programs, representing 8.8% of all active mortgages, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology data provider. The numbers are down 77,000 from last week and 112,000 since the peak week of May 22nd.
The current situation and the dislocation it has caused present issues of immediate concern, as well issues of more general concern revolving around how market participants should prepare for the downturn by revisiting lessons learned from past real estate downturns.
One of the most important lessons we have learned from past downturns is that first movers—those who act quickly and decisively when the market turns—gain a real advantage over those who respond more slowly. The best executions seemed to come early in the downturns, and those who were reactive—whether because they were in denial or otherwise—paid a real price. So, we think that both lenders and borrowers will be well served by giving thought now to how to prepare for the inevitable. In order to best prepare, we suggest that borrowers systematically address their entire portfolio, using a framework of investigation, followed by triage and strategic analysis, and then recovery.