When people listed their homes on Zillow in 2011, they were more likely to mention the home’s foreclosure status and/or eligibility for federal financing assistance than they were in 2015, reports Chris Sipola of Zillow Research.
Following the housing crash, federal programs were put in place designed to stanch the flow of foreclosed homes and entice home buyers back into the market. In 2011, properties listed for sale on Zillow were chock full of phrases indicating the homes were in or near foreclosure, were ripe for federal financing opportunities and/or featured other recession-era buzzwords. A few years later, though, those descriptions were used far less.
Zillow listings show a large decrease in the use of the term “HUD” nationwide between 2011 and 2015, from 90 mentions per 100,000 words in 2011 to only 10 mentions per 100,000 in 2015. “HUD” was used in the context of being a HUD-owned home; that is, homes with FHA-insured mortgages that fell into the possession of HUD after foreclosure. This phrase often appeared with the term “as is,” indicating that the seller is not on the hook for repairs. The HUD case number was also often included.
Also in 2015, the phrase “short sale” was mentioned one-sixth as frequently as it was during the depths of the crisis.
The phrase “mortgage” is a fairly general real estate term, but we saw its usage by 2015 had dropped to a tenth of what it was in 2011. Why? One clue is that in 2011, about 73% of the listings containing “mortgage” also mentioned the phrase “HomePath,” while in 2015 it was just 17% of the time. HomePath was a Fannie Mae program that allowed buyers of foreclosed homes to borrow extra money for repairs and renovations. In cases where a mortgage was mentioned but HomePath was not, other phrases indicating economic hardship were often present.