Foreclosure Activity Falls; Calm Before Another Storm?

We’d like to say there’s visible light at the end of the tumultuous foreclosure tunnel — just don’t know if that’s the case. While RealtyTrac reported Thursday that foreclosure filings dropped 7 percent from October to November, with 259,085 U.S. properties receiving a filing — one in every 488 housing units — filings are still up 28 percent from November of last year. “Foreclosure activity in November hit the lowest level we’ve seen since June thanks in part to recently enacted laws that have extended the foreclosure process in some states, along with more aggressive loan modification programs and self-imposed holiday foreclosure moratoriums introduced by some lenders,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “There are several indications, however, that this lower activity is simply a temporary lull before another foreclosure storm hits in the coming months.” HousingWire’s sources have consistently echoed this theory that foreclosure moratorium alone is not enough to prevent foreclosures, and might just delay the inevitable. “Delinquencies on loans not yet in the foreclosure process jumped to nearly 7 percent in the third quarter, a record high, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association,” Saccacio said. And more than half of the homeowners who received loan modifications to reduce monthly mortgage payments in the first half of 2008 are already delinquent on their loans again, according to the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision. “Many of these delinquencies could turn into foreclosures next year,” Saccacio said. By no surprise, Nevada, Florida, and Arizona posted the top state foreclosure rates in November. Nevada foreclosure activity actually decreased nearly 4 percent from the previous month, but it managed to maintain the nation’s No. 1 foreclosure rate, with one in every 76 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during the month — more than six times the national average. Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 were California, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado, Utah and Idaho, according to RealtyTrac’s report. Cities in California and Florida accounted for nine of Top 10 metro foreclosure rates. With one in every 59 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in November, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., posted the highest metropolitan foreclosure rate among the 230 metro areas tracked in the report. Two other Florida cities ranked among the top 10 in terms of foreclosure rate: Fort Lauderdale at No. 7 and Port Lucie-Fort Pierce at No. 8. Las Vegas was the only city not in Florida or California with a foreclosure rate that ranked among the top 10. One in every 61 Las Vegas housing units received a foreclosure filing in November, the second highest metro foreclosure rate. California accounted for the remainder of the top 10 metro foreclosure rates. Write to Kelly Curran at [email protected].

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