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Phoenix foreclosures drop to lowest level since 2008

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Banks foreclosed on 2,845 Phoenix homes in October, the lowest monthly total since March 2008, according to analytics firm DataQuick. The total dropped 39% from one year ago and also fell 9.7% from the month before. Mortgage servicers slowed the foreclosure process in many states beginning last year to correct documentation problems and adapt to changes from federal regulators and recent state requirements. The correction has been sporadic. Foreclosures ground to a halt in New York and slowed enough to knock Las Vegas out of the top five for foreclosures, according to RealtyTrac. Meanwhile in California, the process seems to be picking up again. During the first 10 months of 2011, foreclosures totaled 45,628 Phoenix homes, down 13.1% from the same period the year before. But the city, one of the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis showed stronger signs of recovery in October. Home sales there increased from the year before for the sixth consecutive month. More than 8,000 new and existing homes closed escrow, up 15.2% from last year. Most of the activity is from the existing inventory. The 7,300 homes that resold in October was the highest total in two years. Not all of them are REO either. Sales on homes that were repossessed in the previous year accounted for 43% of all activity in Phoenix, down from nearly 54% one year ago and the lowest percentage since June 2008. Short sales accounted for 16.2% of all October sales, according to DataQuick, up from 15% last year. Most of the activity occurred for homes that sold for less than $100,000. Sales in this bracket spiked 22% from last year, keeping the median price down for the entire metro area. The median price paid on Phoenix homes sold in October fell to $120,000, down 6.8% the year before. Prices in Phoenix stand 54.6% below the peak in June 2006 when the median price was $264,100. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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