Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lenders and servicers are beginning foreclosure proceedings on delinquent loans that had been delayed by legislative and industry moratoria

TO BE NOTED: From Bloomberg:

"U.S. Foreclosure Filings Hit Record for Second Straight Month

By Dan Levy

May 13 (Bloomberg) -- Foreclosure filings in the U.S. rose to a record for the second consecutive month in April as banks increased efforts to seize homes from delinquent borrowers.

A total of 342,038 properties received a default or auction notice or were seized last month, RealtyTrac Inc. of Irvine, California, said today in a statement. One in 374 households got a filing, the highest monthly rate since the property data service began issuing such reports in 2005.

“What you’re seeing is the inevitable result of severe job losses,” Nicolas Retsinas, director of housing studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said in an interview. “Until we stem the job losses, we can expect to see continuing foreclosures.”

Unemployment is hampering the housing market as property prices fall. The U.S. jobless rate rose to 8.9 percent, the highest in more than a quarter century, the Labor Department said May 9. Home prices fell the most on record in the first quarter to a median $169,000 amid sales of foreclosure properties, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday.

Foreclosure filings jumped 32 percent from the year-earlier period, RealtyTrac said. Filings were little changed from March as some states delayed seizures. Ten states accounted for three- quarters of all foreclosures in April, with California leading the nation.

Declines Slowing?

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said yesterday there are signs the real estate market is recovering.

“Since January we’ve seen both home sales moving up and down around a relatively stable number and we are seeing the first signs that the rapid decline in home prices is starting to abate,” Donovan said at an NAR conference in Washington.

March prices fell less than in February and 17 states showed sales increases, yesterday’s NAR report showed, as buyers took advantage of mortgage rates below 5 percent. The Federal Reserve is purchasing mortgage-backed securities to spur lower rates.

While price declines are slowing, it’s likely bank seizures will increase in the coming months, RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio said.

“Lenders and servicers are beginning foreclosure proceedings on delinquent loans that had been delayed by legislative and industry moratoria,” Saccacio said.

California was No. 1 in April with 96,560 filings, a 42 percent increase from a year earlier, RealtyTrac reported. Florida climbed 75 percent to 64,588, Nevada rose 111 percent to 16,266 and Arizona rose 40 percent to 16,245.

State Rankings

Illinois ranked fifth in filings with 13,647, up 54 percent from a year earlier. Other states among the top 10 were Ohio with 12,324, Georgia with 11,521, Texas with 11,314, Michigan with 10,830 and Virginia with 6,254.

Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate as one in 68 households there received a filing, more than five times the national average. Bank seizures dropped 44 percent from the previous month, RealtyTrac said.

Florida had the second highest rate at one in 135 households, almost three times the national average, and bank seizures fell 7 percent from March. California ranked third at one in 138 households, and Arizona was fourth at one in 164.

Utah, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio were among the other with the 10 highest foreclosure rates.

Connecticut had the 19th highest rate, one in 662 households. Filings rose 25 percent from a year earlier to 2,174.

New Jersey’s Rate

New Jersey had the 22nd highest rate, one in 695 households, and filings fell 4 percent to 5,034. New York ranked 36th at one in 1,420 households, and filings fell 1 percent to 5,591.

Las Vegas had the highest rate for metropolitan areas with populations of 200,000 or more. A total of 14,073 properties, or one in 56 households, received a filing, almost seven times the national average, RealtyTrac said.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers in Florida ranked second at one in 57 households. The city also had the steepest price decline in the first quarter, down 59 percent from a year ago, the NAR said yesterday. Miami and Orlando ranked ninth and tenth.

California cities ranked third through eighth: Merced, Modesto, Riverside-San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Vallejo- Fairfield, and Stockton, according to RealtyTrac, which collects default data from 2,200 U.S. counties representing about 90 percent of the population.

“The housing problem is now an economic problem,” Retsinas said. “On the margins you have some investors who think they may have found the bottom, but on the other side are foreclosures.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Levy in San Francisco at dlevy13@bloomberg.net"

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