I wanted to highlight Atlanta, Georgia as it is one of the top ten metro areas in the country, we have an office there, and we are intimately familiar with the real estate market.  Furthermore, it is a typical large city and a good indicator for the country as to where mortgage defaults will actually occur.  In every recession, there are two predictors of default/loss, collateral and equity.  What does the data tell us today about Georgia?  What does this mean for real estate prices? Since 2008, there have been some major changes in financing, gone are the old days of subprime now replaced by government programs.  Why is this change important?

What changed in financing?

Prior to 2008, the FHA market share was around 4-7% of the total mortgage market, fast forward to 2020, the share of FHA loans is now around 21% of the market.  As the subprime mortgage market imploded in 2008 and 2009, these borrowers now are financed by FHA which has led to the explosive growth (source HUD).

Why are borrowers choosing FHA?

FHA rates are between ½ to ¾% of a percent higher than conventional loans.  On a 400k house this adds up to around 3k/year.  Why are borrowers choosing to go FHA versus your traditional conventional mortgage?  It is easier to qualify!  FHA allows down payments as low as 3.5%, credit scores down to 580, and higher debt to income ratios.

FHA loans are considerably riskier for defaults

According to 2019 data from Core logic, the mortgage default rate of an FHA loan is over 3 time more likely than a conventional mortgage.  Why? FHA loans are riskier loans due to decreased equity and decreased credit and income requirements.  FHA is a subsidized “subprime” lender sponsored by the federal government and tax payers.

Why track FHA loans?

With default rates on FHA loans substantially higher than traditional mortgages it is important to see where the majority of these loans are being made.  The larger the amount of FHA loans in a particular area is a flag for increased defaults.  36% of all loans originated in 2001 ended up defaulting (Housing wire).  If this occurred in a particular city/zip this would no doubt have an impact on surrounding properties.

What was in the data?

FHA publishes data of originations on purchases and refinances into FHA products.  They also break down refinances on refi from an FHA loan to another FHA loan along with Conventional to FHA.

I found it interesting as to why would someone refinance from a conventional mortgage to an FHA mortgage? As mentioned above FHA rates are considerably higher so the only explanation is that the borrower cannot qualify for a conventional loan.  This is a key indicator of financial duress as there is no other plausible reason to refinance into a higher rate.



What is the new data telling us today in Georgia?

To see areas more at risk for default, I focused on the amount of mortgages (dollar value) where borrowers were refinancing from a conventional mortgage to an FHA mortgage as this is a leading indicator of possible financial duress.  Below are the top ten zip codes

CityZip Amount
7East Point303491036127


Do you want to know how your city/zip ranks, I created pivot tables based on the FHA data; if you click on FHA conv state you can filter by state, city, zip, etc..

What do these locations have in common?

Below is a map of the top ten.  All of them except two are a suburban or exurban location.

What will happen in Georgia with mortgage defaults in the next cycle?

There will no doubt be more defaults in the locations highlighted above, but I don’t think the sky will fall like it did in 2008.  The areas highlighted above (other than the two in town locations located in “changing” areas on the South Side of Atlanta) all have substantial inventory of new houses and available land to build more.  These areas will see more distress than other more metro areas that have limited supply.



As Mark Twain famously said, history doesn’t repeat itself but rhymes.  In our current crisis, I’m starting to see some very distinct rhymes from the last real estate crisis.  Although it doesn’t appear that real estate will have nearly the fall that it did in 08, there will still be defaults and stress in the market.  The locations highlighted by analyzing the conventional loans to  FHA loan refinances are eerily similar to that last crisis that hit many suburban and exurban areas considerably harder than other areas.

Additional Reading/Resources

  1. https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/rmra/oe/rpts/sfsnap/sfsnap
  2. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/mortgage-performance-trends/download-the-data/
  3. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/ushmc/fi_FHAShareVol.html
  4. https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/rmra/oe/rpts/fhamktsh/fhamktqtrly
  5. https://www.corelogic.com/blog/2019/01/mortgage-delinquency-rates-for-all-loan-types-continue-to-fall.aspx


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Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending.  Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in Bloomberg, Businessweek ,the Colorado Real Estate Journal, National Association of Realtors MagazineThe Real Deal real estate news, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.


Fairview is a hard money lender specializing in private money loans / non-bank real estate loans in Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, and Florida. They are recognized in the industry as the leader in hard money lending with no upfront fees or any other games. Learn more about Hard Money Lending through our free Hard Money Guide.  To get started on a loan all we need is our simple one page application (no upfront fees or other games).