Loan servicers working on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac signed off on a record number of short sales in the third quarter of 2012, according to a report from the mortgage giants’ regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

Short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure totaled 37,966 for the three months ending Sept. 30, 2012, up 4 percent from the previous quarter and 23 percent from a year ago. Fannie and Freddie implemented accelerated timelines in June 2012 for reviewing and approving short-sale transactions.

Fannie and Freddie short sales and deeds-in-lieu

Right-click graph to enlarge. Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The mortgage giants’ inventories of "real estate owned" (REO) homes also continued to decline, as Fannie and Freddie got rid of homes faster than they acquired them through foreclosures.

During the first nine months of the year, Fannie and Freddie acquired 197,507 homes through foreclosure, and sold 218,321 REOs and foreclosed homes.

Fannie and Freddie REO inventories (thousands of homes)

Right-click graph to enlarge. Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency.

All told, Fannie and Freddie had 158,138 homes in their REO inventories as of Sept. 30, 2012, down 13 percent from a year ago and a drop of nearly 36 percent from a Sept. 30, 2010, peak of 241,684.

Fannie and Freddie were placed under government control, or conservatorship, in September 2008. Since then, loan servicers working on their behalf have approved 2.1 million home retention actions, including 1.26 million permanent loan modifications.

During the same period, Fannie and Freddie acquired more than 1.1 million homes through foreclosure, and signed off on 413,436 short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.

There have been about 4 million completed foreclosures nationwide since September 2008, according to data aggregator CoreLogic.

Of the 62,561 loan modifications completed in the third quarter, about 45 percent of borrowers saw their monthly payments decrease by more than 30 percent. More than a third of loan mods included principal forbearance. Less than 15 percent of loans modified in fourth-quarter 2011 had missed two or more payments as of Sept. 30, 2012, nine months after modification, the report said.

Since the beginning of the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) in April 2009, just over 1 million borrowers have been offered a trial loan modification, and more than half had been granted a permanent modification. Of those, 21.2 percent had defaulted as of the third quarter. The vast majority of the remainder, 428,946 borrowers, were in active permanent modifications as of the third quarter.

Since October 2009, Fannie and Freddie have offered 564,822 non-HAMP permanent loan modifications. Non-HAMP modifications made up two-thirds of all permanent loan mods in the third quarter, the report said.

The share of mortgage loans 30-59 days delinquent rose slightly to 2.08 percent of all loans serviced in the third quarter, but the share of seriously delinquent loans fell slightly to 3.39 percent. Seriously delinquent loans are those that are 90 days or more delinquent or in the process of foreclosure. More than half of seriously delinquent borrowers had missed more than a year of mortgage payments as of the end of the third quarter, the report said.

Nearly 3 in 10 of these deeply delinquent borrowers are located in Florida.

An interactive map detailing state-by-state foreclosure prevention actions can be found here.

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