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Sharga: Several more years with nearly 1M foreclosures per year

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The housing market faces several more years with 800,000 to 1 million new foreclosed properties per year, according to Rick Sharga, an executive vice president with Carrington Mortgage Services. Sharga recently left RealtyTrac, where he helped build a network that tracked foreclosure filings across the country. Recently, analysts at Bank of America Merill Lynch estimated REO sales would peak until 2013 when nearly 1.5 million properties would be sold. According to RealtyTrac, there have been 8.9 million homes lost to foreclosure since 2007, the height of the credit crisis. Sharga said based on lender behavior, he doesn't see a spike happening, rather a slow, steady burn in order to spare home prices from further reductions. Today, roughly 4 million homes sell per year. If 1.5 million REO sold, that would be almost 40% of the market, which would be double the current market share of these properties. "I think it’s less likely that we’re going to see a 'peak' year in REO sales that looks dramatically different than what we’ve been seeing over the past few years. This is partly due to relatively weak demand, partly due to what I’d call 'inventory control' being executed by the lenders and servicers, and partly due to the fact that foreclosure processing, evictions and redemption periods have all become extended, and often appear to be in a state of flux," Sharga said. The largest delay came when servicers were found to be improperly foreclosing on homeowners last year. RealtyTrac said the delays, investigations and ongoing attorneys general settlement talks pushed more than 1 million foreclosures that were supposed to occur in 2011 to 2012. According to Lender Processing Services (LPS), mortgages facing foreclosure are delinquent an average of 611 days. Once a foreclosure is initiated, Sharga said it can take as long as 400 days to complete. So, he said, a loan entering foreclosure in December 2011 won't hit the market as an REO until January or February 2013. "Sales volume will be high in 2012, 2013 and probably 2014 as well," Sharga said. "But it still seems more probable that we’ll see consistently high – yet closely managed – numbers of these sales over several years than it is that we’ll see a huge spike followed by a precipitous drop." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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