In the latest proof that the U.S. housing market continues to face what many believe to be long-term problems, the number of foreclosures continues to rise -- despite recent efforts that have seen loan workouts reach more than one million troubled borrowers.
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U.S. foreclosures rose nearly 60 percent year-over-year during February, according to foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac. In a monthly report released Thursday, the firm said that foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 223,651 properties nationwide during the month, a drop of 4 percent from January. RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said the monthly drop was likely a seasonal effect. "The 4 percent monthly decrease this February was similar to the 6 percent monthly decrease we saw in February 2007," he said. "However, the year-over-year increase of 60 percent this February was significantly higher than the 19 percent year-over-year increase in February 2007, indicating we have still not reached the peak of foreclosure activity in this cycle." So-called "bubble states" dominate the foreclosure landscape. Nevada continued to document the nation's highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 165 households receiving a foreclosure filing during February — more than three times the national average. Foreclosure filings were reported on a total of 6,167 Nevada properties during the month, up 1 percent from the previous month and up 68 percent from February 2007. California registered the second-highest rate, with one in every 242 households receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, while Florida registered the nation’s third-highest February foreclosure rate. Both states documented foreclosure rates that were more than twice the national average, RealtyTrac said. California continued to post the most foreclosures, as well. Foreclosure filings were reported on a total of 53,629 California properties in February, the most of any state despite a 6 percent decrease from the previous month. The state’s foreclosure activity was still up 131 percent from February 2007, signaling that trouble in the Golden State's housing market has not yet abated. Market experts have suggested that foreclosures are likely to remain elevated, despite progress made on numerous fronts to reach out and help troubled borrowers. "We think the cycle will definitely continue through this year, and probably into next year," said RealtyTrac vice president Rick Sharga. "We have to play out alot of the subprime adjustable loans that are still in the system. We have a peak reset period in May and June and we'll have to see how quickly and how completely those loans go into default." For more information, visit http://www.realtytrac.com.