Headlines can make or break the understanding of a problem.
Here’s an Associated Press headline on a story out this morning:
What’s missing is a list of definitions. What does it mean to “face foreclosure?” In this study from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Associated Press has defined it as being late for a payment. One in 10 people, according to the story, wqw late. But that calls for another definition: What is “late?” Is it people who didn’t make it at all? Is it people who made it but made it late?
Technically, I suppose, I am facing foreclosure. The only thing that can stop it, is me making a payment, which — fortunately — I did this month.
But deeper in the story is the real story. If you define “facing foreclosure” as people who have received a first notice of foreclosure, the number is actually 1 in 100.
And the percentage of loans receiving their first notice of foreclosure also dipped. That fell to 1.1 percent in the second quarter from 1.2 percent in the first quarter
Wait a second! It dipped?
Yes, according to the same story:
In a worrisome sign, the number of homeowners starting to have problems with their mortgages rose after trending downward last year. The number of homes in the foreclosure process fell slightly, the first drop in four years.
Are you following that? The number of homeowners starting to have problems is rising. The number of homes in the foreclosure process is falling.
It defies a simple headline.