Foreclosure Filings Hit New Record in 2009: RealtyTrac
In 2009, a record 2.8 million properties received a foreclosure filing, a 21% jump from 2008 and a 120% increase from 2007, according to online marketplace RealtyTrac, which reported the numbers Thursday. A foreclosure filing includes default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions. In all, 2.2% of all U.S. housing units, or one in every 45 properties, received at least one foreclosure filing during the year. That number increased from 1.84% in 2008, 1.03% in 2007 and 0.58% in 2006. The fact that foreclosure filings increased to record levels in a year highlighted by the launch of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) -- which many industry insiders credit with strongly slowing the pace of foreclosures that would have otherwise been seen -- sheds light on how high the numbers could have been. According to the latest Treasury report, the servicers participating in HAMP offered more than 1m three-month trial period modifications to borrowers in distress. “As bad as the 2009 numbers are, they probably would have been worse if not for legislative and industry-related delays in processing delinquent loans,” said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac, in a statement. A Treasury spokesperson told HousingWire that the latest HAMP progress report will be released on Friday, Jan. 15. For the month of December, typically a slow month for foreclosures, new filings climbed 14% to encompass more than 349,000 homes -- up 15% from 2008's levels in the same month. Looking in on individual states, Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in 2009, RealtyTrac said. More than 10% of all housing units in the state received at least one foreclosure filing, the third straight year the state has led the nation in pace of foreclosure activity. The second-highest rate belonged to Arizona, as more than 6% of its housing supply received a foreclosure filing during last year. Florida came in third, with 5.93% of statewide housing units receiving a filing. Video courtesy of WSJ.com More than 50% of all foreclosure filings occurred in California, Florida, Arizona and Illinois -- showing that the nation's foreclosure crisis remains concentrated within hard-hit "bubble states." More than 1.4m properties received a filing in those states combined. Despite the heavy volume of foreclosures recorded in California, foreclosure cancellations actually outnumbered those properties that fell into real-estate owned (REO) status last month, according to ForeclosureRadar, which tracks foreclosure activity in the state. “Despite all the delays, foreclosure activity still hit a record high for our report in 2009, capped off by a substantial increase in December,” RealtyTrac's Saccacio said. “In the long term, a massive supply of delinquent loans continues to loom over the housing market, and many of those delinquencies will end up in the foreclosure process in 2010 and beyond as lenders gradually work their way through the backlog.” Write to Jon Prior.