The number of US homes facing foreclosure jumped 57 per cent in January compared to a year ago, with lenders increasingly forced to take possession of homes they could not unload at auctions, a mortgage research firm said on Monday.
Nationwide, some 233,001 homes received at least one notice from lenders last month related to overdue payments, compared to 148,425 a year earlier, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac. Nearly half of the total involved first-time default notices.
The worsening situation came despite ongoing efforts by lenders to help borrowers manage their payments by modifying loan terms, working out long-term repayment plans and other actions.
“You have more people going into default and a higher percentage of the properties going back to the banks,” said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac’s vice-president of marketing.
The US foreclosure rate last month was one filing for every 534 homes. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers area in Florida posted the highest foreclosure rate of any metro area in the US, with one of every 86 homes in some stage of foreclosure, said RealtyTrac.
Stockton, California, was ranked second, with one of every 97 homes involved in a foreclosure filing, while the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area in Southern California had the third-highest foreclosure rate with filings for one of every 101 properties.
January’s tally represented an eight per cent increase from December. RealtyTrac follows default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. Lenders typically consider borrowers delinquent after they fall three months behind on mortgage payments. Attempts to help struggling home owners have fallen short.
“The loan workout modification programmes aren’t having a significant material effect on keeping properties from going back to the banks,” Sharga said.
One dramatic trend witnessed last month was a 90 per cent spike in the number of properties that were repossessed by banks, compared to January 2007.
“It suggests that there’s little or no equity in a lot of these homes, because they’re not even being sold to investors at auctions, and it suggests a continuing weakness in a lot of markets in terms of real estate sales,” Sharga said.
Falling home values and tighter lending standards by banks have extended the housing slump, making it tougher for homeowners unable to sell their homes or refinance when they face mortgage payments they cannot afford.
A wave of adjustable rate mortgage resets expected in May and June threatens to push many other homeowners into default. During the past year, 30 states saw an increase in the number of homes that had received at least one filing.
Nevada led the nation, with 6,087 properties receiving at least one filing, up 95 per cent from a year earlier but down 45 per cent from December, the firm said. That translates into a rate of about one foreclosure for every 167 households.
Rounding out the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates were California, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Georgia, Connecticut, Ohio and Michigan. California had 57,158 properties reporting at least one filing, the most of any state.
The total increased 120 per cent from a year ago and 7 per cent from December. Florida had 30,178 homes on the foreclosure track, up about 158 per cent from a year earlier and down three per cent versus December, RealtyTrac said. (AP)
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