Mark Fleming-Chief Economist, First American CoreLogic

By Wisniowski, Charles | Mortgage Banking, February 2008 | Go to article overview

Mark Fleming-Chief Economist, First American CoreLogic


Wisniowski, Charles, Mortgage Banking


As chief economist for First American CoreLogic Inc., Santa Ana, California, a provider of collateral risk-management and fraud-prevention solutions, Mark Fleming leads the company's economic and research team from the company's Vienna, Virginia, office.

Fleming is responsible for developing the collateral and credit-risk models that serve as the basis of the CoreLogic product suite through economic analysis and real estate market monitoring and analysis of market trends.

Fleming also has spent the last several years studying mortgage fraud and fraud-prevention strategies.

Prior to joining CoreLogic, Fleming was at Fannie Mae, where he developed property valuation models designed as part of collateral-assessment applications used in mortgage origination, quality control and loss mitigation. He also managed a model-development and implementation team responsible for maintenance and development of collateral model production code and data sets for mortgage origination software and automated property valuation applications.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Fleming has published research on spatial econometrics in The American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Geographic Information Sciences. He has also presented his work at numerous conferences, and is a member of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association (AREUEA), Richmond, Virginia, and the Regional Science Association of America.

Fleming obtained his master of science degree and doctorate in agricultural and resource economics at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, and earned his bachelor of arts degree at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

Mortgage Banking recently interviewed Fleming about his mortgage and economic outlook for 2008 as well as his take on how mortgage fraud is affecting the industry.

Q: How would you summarize the current state of the housing and mortgage markets? What are some key indicators you are watching to diagnose the general health of the market?

A: Clearly, in the real estate market house-price levels are correcting in many markets, coming off of the highs of recent years--creating some problems for foreclosures and [a] lack of people having equity, as well as also--taking a more positive outlook-creating affordability in some of these recently highly unaffordable markets.

The mortgage markets themselves are going through trying times, mostly because of how the secondary market has reacted to the performance of subprime loans--and their reaction has been across the board.

So they are changing the business processes that are being [used] in the mortgage market, the types of lending that's being done [and] the channels that are being used--in particular, the wholesale channel ... is being affected.

[O]ne of our big indicators [that] we monitor [is] the serious-delinquency rates of loans and the pre-foreclosure notifications in the county courthouses. Those are basically leading indicators of what is to come in terms of foreclosure and further levels of delinquency.

When those things reach their peak and begin to decline, then we'll have positive expectations for improvement in the markets.

Q: Specifically regarding subprime, what's your outlook for subprime in 2008 and into 2009?

A: Actually, when you look at what's going on in the marketplace, there is still subprime lending going on. Is it at the peaks that it was in recent years? No. But there are still subprime borrowers with the ability to [move] into more "vanilla" loan products.

Obviously the focus has returned to [originating the] subprime lending of old. [By] "of old," we're talking about three or four years ago, which was heavily focused on ensuring there was plenty of good collateral behind that subprime borrower.

So that kind of subprime lending is continuing. I think some of the subprime lending that has gone away in the last year or so may not return, and we probably may not want it, as an industry, to necessarily return. …

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