Foreclosure filings occurred on 274,399 U.S. properties during January, according to data released Thursday by online foreclosure resource RealtyTrac. The volume of filings showed a 10 percent decrease from the previous month, but still held 18 percent higher than January 2008, with one in every 466 U.S. properties having received a foreclosure filing in January 2009, according to the report. Nevada reported the highest rate with a foreclosure filing on one in every 76 units, while California saw one in every 173 units receive a filing. Arizona took the close third, with one in every 182 units receiving a foreclosure filing in the month. Florida may have seen a 20 percent month-over-month decline in foreclosure activity, but it still posted the fourth-highest rate with one in every 214 units receiving a filing. California reported 76,761 foreclosure filings in the month, the most reported by any state despite its 14 percent decrease from December’s results. Meanwhile, 40,770 Florida properties received filings in January and 14,674 units in Florida received foreclosure filings. “The extensive foreclosure efforts on the part of lenders and government agencies appear to have impacted the January numbers — particularly the Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) moratorium on all foreclosure sales…along with Florida’s voluntary 45-day freeze on all new foreclosure actions and scheduling of foreclosure sales…,” said CEO James Saccacio. But it’s still unknown whether the temporary lull in foreclosures will have any lasting effect with loan modifications, or whether it’s simply the byproduct of an artificial dam in the foreclosure pipeline and will disappear when the foreclosure freeze at the GSEs thaws out. Another online real estate information provider, ForeclosureS.com, reported Wednesday that completed foreclosures dropped 25 percent across the country in January. Pre-foreclosure filings also showed a significant decline for the month, dropping 12 percent from December’s data, suggesting the market might be facing some sort of recovery — or at least a temporary pause in foreclosure proceedings. “It’s not quite time to pop that celebratory champagne,” said president Alexis McGee. “But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s moratorium on foreclosures before the holidays, big lenders emphasizing loan workouts, and states taking steps to slow down foreclosures are all are working together to make a difference.” Write to Diana Golobay at firstname.lastname@example.org. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.
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