Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Foreclosures down month-to-month thrice, remain ahead of 2009, potential defaults loom

Senate gets health care bill
October foreclosure filings declined 3 percent from the previous month, but remained ahead of last October's tally by 19 percent. Foreclosure action came on 332,292 U.S. properties, or one in every 385 U.S. housing units.

by Broderick Perkins
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Deadline Newsroom - October foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions -- declined 3 percent from the previous month, but remained ahead of last year's October tally by 19 percent.

RealtlyTrac today reported foreclosure action on 332,292 U.S. properties, revealing one in every 385 U.S. housing units were slapped with a foreclosure filing in October.

"Three consecutive monthly declines is unprecedented for our report, and on first blush an indication that the foreclosure tide may be turning," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

"However, the fundamental forces driving foreclosure activity in this housing downturn — high-risk mortgages, negative equity, and unemployment — continue to loom over any nascent recovery," he added.

Also a growing number of studies reveal a "phantom" or "shadow" inventory of potential listings, stem not from bank-held REO properties, but from a "record number of delinquencies and delayed foreclosures in the pipeline," according to
Sean O'Toole, CEO of

O'Toole says, however, many of those cases can be easily verified and identified because, even if lenders are delaying foreclosures, the homeowners are still listed as delinquent.

In recent months, in select markets, many lenders are getting rid of more repossessed properties than they are taking in REOs, according to

"We know exactly which properties are in trouble and where they are in the process. They’re not moving at all because we as a society lack the political will to foreclose. Because the national focus is targeted on keeping homeowners in their homes, the drain is bigger than the spigot – REO properties are selling faster than distressed properties are being foreclosed on," O'Toole says in "Shadow Inventory – Confusion Reigns."

However, homeowners not paying underwater mortgages, but not yet suffering the consequences of default or foreclosures may not all be showing up in the foreclosure numbers, according to Bruce Hahn President of the American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance/American Homeowners Foundation .

"These trends are contributing to a rapid buildup of nonperforming mortgages that ultimately threatens the recovery of housing values and the viability of financial services firms with large mortgage portfolios," Hahn says.

Meanwhile four states -- California, Florida, Illinois and Michigan -- accounted for 52 percent of the nation's total foreclosure activity in sheer numbers in October, RealtyTrac said.

When it came to foreclosure rates, the number of foreclosures per housing units, Nevada, California, Florida again were at the top of the list.

Other states with high foreclosure rates were Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Maryland and Utah.

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop.

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