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Robo-signing hangover slows foreclosures in Western states

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The lingering effects of the robo-signing debacle, where mortgage servicing personnel stand accused of pushing forward foreclosure documents without proper review, continues to mess with foreclosure statistics in a number of Western states. Foreclosure sales in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington fell 38.7% in October and November, according to ForeclosureRadar. The real estate tracking firm said the nationwide moratorium imposed by the nation's largest mortgage lenders initially only impacted judicial states, but began affecting nonjudicial states in early October. The company expects foreclosures to revert to more stable levels in the coming months especially now that Bank of America (BAC) has restarted its process. Mortgage servicers, by and large, completed reviews of this process and claim to have corrected foreclosure due process. "Since September 2008 the foreclosure process has seen significant bottlenecks, first due to government intervention and now lender ineptitude," according to Sean O'Toole, chief executive of ForeclosureRadar. "Unfortunately the resulting delays will only serve to extend the time it takes to recover and return to a normal housing market." While the robo-signing debacle did little to impact foreclosure activity in Washington in October, the numbers cratered last month with a nearly 32% drop in filing to 2,736 from 4,007 and a 38.1% decline in foreclosure sales, although the numbers are still 16.2% and 29.3% higher than a year earlier. In September, a record number of properties were foreclosed in Washington with 2,007, which was up 55.2% from a year ago. Notice of default filings and trustee sales in Oregon in November fell for the third-straight month to the lowest points since late 2008, according to ForeclosureRadar. Sales of foreclosed properties in the Beaver State decreased 26.7% last month to 445 from 973 and are down 54.3% since September. In Nevada, foreclosure sales dropped 22.1% in November and are down 50.5% since September. The company said the Thanksgiving holiday and delays caused by the robo-signing fiasco continue to weigh on foreclosure activity in the state. Notice of trustee filings in Arizona fell 24% last month from 10,047 to 7,602 the lowest level since March 2008, most likely due to the issues caused by the foreclosure moratorium, according to the company. Write to Jason Philyaw.

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