Florida and Texas Buck National Defect Risk Trend, According to First American Loan Application Defect Index

Unfortunately, historical data indicates that natural disasters and defect risk go hand-in-hand and that trend seems to be playing out in Florida and Texas, says Chief Economist Mark Fleming


October 31, 2017, Santa Ana, Calif.

First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF), a leading global provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions, today released the First American Loan Application Defect Index for September 2017, which estimates the frequency of defects, fraudulence and misrepresentation in the information submitted in mortgage loan applications. The Defect Index reflects estimated mortgage loan defect rates over time, by geography and by loan type. It’s available as an interactive tool that can be tailored to showcase trends by category, including amortization type, lien position, loan purpose, property and transaction types, as well as state and market comparisons of mortgage loan defect levels.

September 2017 Loan Application Defect Index

  • The frequency of defects, fraudulence and misrepresentation in the information submitted in mortgage loan applications is down 1.2 percent month-over-month.
  • Compared to September 2016, the Defect Index increased by 20.3 percent.
  • The Defect Index is down 18.6 percent from the high point of risk in October 2013.
  • The Defect Index for refinance transactions remained the same compared to the previous month, and is 18.6 percent higher than a year ago.
  • The Defect Index for purchase transactions decreased 1.1 percent month-over-month, and is up 12.5 percent compared to a year ago.

Chief Economist Analysis: Post-Natural Disaster Defect Risk Trends Appear to be Playing Out in Florida and Texas

“In July and August, we reported that the Loan Application Defect Index didn’t rise, which was good news given that loan application defect, fraud and misrepresentation risk had risen throughout 2017,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American. “In September, the overall risk of defects, fraud and misrepresentation declined for the first time this year, although there are regions with higher defect risk due to recent natural disasters.”

“Unfortunately, historical data indicates that natural disasters and loan application defect risk go hand-in-hand,” said Fleming. “Our defect, misrepresentation and fraud risk index identified signs of this risk trend in Texas and Florida this month and particularly in Houston, where risk increased the most among all the major markets we track.”

Additional Quotes from Chief Economist Mark Fleming

  • “Last month, based on data from previous natural disasters, we highlighted the potential for increased mortgage loan application fraud risk due to the hurricanes in Florida and Texas, particularly fraudulent or unintentional misrepresentation of collateral condition.”
  • “In September, we see signs that this trend is bearing out in hurricane-impacted states. While nationally defect risk declined in September, the level of defect, fraud and misrepresentation risk has increased in Florida and Texas by 2.2 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, compared to August.”
  • “Prior to the hurricanes, defect risk in Florida and Texas was declining, but that trend has reversed in September.”
  • “In Houston, which was severely impacted by flooding, defect, fraud and misrepresentation risk surged 7.2 percent, the largest month-over-month increase among the top 50 metropolitan markets. Flooding is associated with elevated risk for misrepresentation of collateral risk condition.”

September 2017 State Highlights

  • The five states with the greatest year-over-year increase in defect frequency are: South Dakota (+54.2 percent), North Dakota (+45.7 percent), Wyoming (+40.3 percent), New Mexico (+40.0 percent), and Iowa (+39.3 percent).
  • There is one state with a year-over-year decrease in defect frequency: Connecticut (-2.8 percent).

    September 2017 Local Market Highlights

  • Among the largest 50 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs), the five markets with the greatest year-over-year increase in defect frequency are: Raleigh, N.C. (+52.4 percent); Virginia Beach, Va. (+29.7 percent); Tampa, Fla. (+27.4 percent), Jacksonville, Fla. (+24.7 percent); and San Antonio (+24.6 percent).
  • There is no CBSA among the largest 50 CBSAs with a year-over-year decrease in defect frequency.

    Next Release

    The next release of the First American Loan Application Defect Index will be posted the week of November 27, 2017.

    Methodology

    The methodology statement for the First American Loan Application Defect Index is available at http://www.firstam.com/economics/defect-index.

    Disclaimer

    Opinions, estimates, forecasts and other views contained in this page are those of First American’s Chief Economist, do not necessarily represent the views of First American or its management, should not be construed as indicating First American’s business prospects or expected results, and are subject to change without notice. Although the First American Economics team attempts to provide reliable, useful information, it does not guarantee that the information is accurate, current or suitable for any particular purpose. © 2017 by First American. Information from this page may be used with proper attribution.

About First American

First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF) is a leading provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions that traces its heritage back to 1889. First American also provides title plant management services; title and other real property records and images; valuation products and services; home warranty products; property and casualty insurance; and banking, trust and investment advisory services. With total revenue of $5.6 billion in 2016, the company offers its products and services directly and through its agents throughout the United States and abroad. In 2016 and again in 2017, First American was named to the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list. More information about the company can be found at www.firstam.com.

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