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Foreclosures in 2011 to break last year's record: RealtyTrac

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Lenders filed a record 3.8 million foreclosures in 2010, up 2% from 2009 and an increase of 23% from 2008, according to RealtyTrac. But 2011 could be even worse. RealtyTrac follows filings across the country that include notices of default, scheduled auctions and REO. The number in 2010 would have been higher were it not for the foreclosure moratoria banks announced in October when employees were found to be signing and filing affidavits improperly in what has become known as the robo-signing scandal. RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said as many 250,000 foreclosures will likely be resubmitted and added to the numbers for 2011. Daren Blomquist, who edits the RealtyTrac monthly reports, said the record set in 2010 will not last for long. "We don’t think we’ve peaked yet nationwide," Blomquist told HousingWire. "We’re expecting the 2011 numbers to be slightly higher than 2010, and then start the downward trend toward 'normalcy' in 2012." Saccacio said foreclosure filings would have been higher in 2010 "had it not been for the fourth quarter drop in foreclosure activity — triggered primarily by the continuing controversy surrounding foreclosure documentation and procedures that prompted many major lenders to temporarily halt some foreclosure proceedings." The final quarter of 2010 had the lowest total since the fourth quarter of 2008. Lenders filed slightly fewer than 800,000 foreclosure cases in the fourth quarter, down 8% from a year ago and down 14% from the previous period. In December, filings dropped 26% from a year ago and 2% from the previous month. Lenders ramped up repossessions, REO, for the month by 4%, led by a 71% monthly increase in Nevada to 3,022 repossessions. However, Nevada REO was still down 24% from a year ago. Overall, Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate for the fourth consecutive year. There, one in 11 homes received a filing in 2010 despite a 5% decrease in activity from 2009. Filings did ramp up 18% in December from the previous month and were up 14% from December 2009. Arizona followed with the second highest rate. One in 17 homes there received a filing. Florida, one in 18, was third. But Blomquist warned more foreclosures could be in store even for those markets that many believe are peaking now. "There are some states and metro areas where it appears the numbers may have technically peaked, areas of California like Stockton are good examples," Blomquist said, "but foreclosures are still pretty high in most of those areas and there is still risk that we could see some foreclosure aftershocks hitting those markets in 2011." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior

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