Mortgage servicers started the foreclosure process on more than 78,800 properties in August, a 33% increase from the month before and the highest monthly increase in four years, according to RealtyTrac. Still, foreclosure starts remained 18% below the level measured in August of last year, just two months before the robo-signing scandal broke. Servicers across the country froze the process to check mishandled documentation. Default notices, the first stage in the process in nonjudicial states, jumped 55% in California. “The big increase in new foreclosure actions may be a signal that lenders are starting to push through some of the foreclosures delayed by robo-signing and other documentation problems,” RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said. “It also foreshadows more bank repossessions in the coming months as these new foreclosures make their way through the process.” According to ForeclosureRadar, another tracker of foreclosures along the West Coast, Bank of America (BAC) is behind the major boost in new foreclosures. Overall filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, reached 228,098 in August, up 7% from the previous month but still down 33% from last year. Lenders finished the process and repossessed more than 64,800 properties in August, down 4% from July and 32% from one year ago. Nevada posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rate for the 56th straight month with one in every 118 properties receiving a filing. The 9,677 filings was a 3% decrease from the month before and down 28% from last year. One in every 103 Las Vegas properties received a filing, five times the national average. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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