October 12th, 2011 11:49 PM by Lehel S.
MINNEAPOLIS—October 10, 2011—FICO (NYSE: FICO) announced today that it has predictive analytics engagements with four of the country’s top 10 mortgage servicers to identify borrowers at the greatest risk of strategic default.
Strategic default, the phenomenon whereby borrowers with the capacity to make their mortgage payments choose instead to default, has become an urgent and costly problem for lenders. University of Chicago Booth School of Business studies indicate that roughly 35 percent of mortgage defaults are strategic, and FICO estimates this makes strategic defaults more than a $20 billion problem annually. This problem is expected to persist for the foreseeable future, as newly issued “first notices of default” jumped 33 percent in August 2011 and a recent FICO survey of risk managers predicted ongoing weakness in the housing market until 2020.
FICO Labs researchers announced earlier this year that they had developed a method for predicting which borrowers are at greatest risk of strategic default, focusing especially on the six million U.S. homeowners with current-loan-to-value ratios of 120 or higher, making them twice as likely to consider defaulting on their mortgage. FICO’s strategic default prediction algorithms are now being employed by four of the 10 largest U.S. mortgage servicers. FICO estimates the collective benefit of its solution for these servicers could reach $2 billion in the first year.
"Distressed borrowers are increasingly likely to see strategic default as a viable or necessary option, but such decisions are devastating to not just their own credit profiles but also lenders’ portfolios and the economy as a whole,” said Greg Pelling, vice president of scores and analytics at FICO. “Fortunately, the technology exists to reverse the trend toward strategic defaults. Our goal is to help the industry implement that technology as quickly as possible.”
“Recent economic turbulence has made it critical for the already-depressed mortgage industry to develop more sophisticated account management strategies,” said Craig Focardi, senior research director at TowerGroup, a Corporate Executive Board company. “Preventing strategic defaults through the use of analytics is especially worth looking into, because this technology has the ability to help lenders make sense of strategic default, identify borrowers who are most at risk and minimize related losses.”
Additional information on FICO’s strategic default research can be found in the white paper “Predicting Strategic Default,” available for free at www.fico.com/Insights.