Record refinancing volume continues to drag mortgage fraud risk down

However, risk in purchases rose at the end of Q2

Record refinancing volume continues to drag mortgage fraud risk down

Overall mortgage fraud risk posted a sharp decline at the end of the second quarter of 2020, but purchase applications told a different story.

Record-low mortgage rates and the surge in refinance volume continued to push the overall fraud risk down. The CoreLogic Mortgage Application Fraud Risk Index showed a 26.3% year-over-year decrease at the end of the second quarter – marking the second year of substantial drop in risk.

Throughout Q2 2020, CoreLogic estimated one in 164 mortgage applications, or 0.6% of all applications, contained indications of fraud. This figure was lower than the reported one in 123 mortgages or 0.8% in Q2 2019.

However, risk in purchase applications grew by 6%, with investment properties driving the highest risk in both purchase and refinance segments.

"The large drop in fraud risk in the past year was primarily driven by record-high refinancing, which is traditionally lower risk transactions," said Bridget Berg, principal of fraud solutions strategy for CoreLogic. "However, we still see elevated levels of risk in purchase transactions, and we have not yet seen the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it's imperative risk managers remain vigilant in searching out potential fraud."

Other key findings of the report:

  • Occupancy fraud risk was the only fraud type segment to experience an increase year over year, jumping 25.8% between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020
  • New York, Nevada and Florida were the top three states with the largest amount of mortgage application fraud risk. Nevada moved into the top three for the first time since 2014, showing a risk increase of 8% year over year.
  • Nevada was also the only state in the top five that showed increased risk when compared to 2019.
  • States with the greatest year-over-year risk growth include New Hampshire, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nevada and Rhode Island. Lower-populated states tend to show greater volatility due to less lending activity.