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VOL. 125 | NO. 29 | Friday, February 12, 2010

Foreclosures on Rise Nationally

ADRIAN SAINZ | AP Real Estate Writer

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The number of U.S. households facing foreclosure in January increased 15 percent from the same month last year, and a surge in cash-strapped homeowners who’ve fallen behind on mortgages could be on the way.

More than 315,000 households received a foreclosure-related notice in January, RealtyTrac Inc. reported Thursday. That number is down nearly 10 percent from 349,000 in December, which saw the third highest total since the company began tracking foreclosure data in 2005.

In January, one in 409 homes were sent a filing, which includes default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions. Banks repossessed more than 87,000 homes last month, down 5 percent from December but still up 31 percent from January 2009.

Locally, there were 453 actual residential foreclosures in Shelby County in January, an 18.1 percent increase from 371 in January 2009, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

Nationally, January marked the 11th straight month with more than 300,000 properties receiving a foreclosure filing. The numbers could stay above that level as unemployed homeowners who have tried to keep up with their mortgages finally start missing monthly payments.

Mortgage financier Fannie Mae reported in late January that the rate of borrowers who have a conventional loan on a house and are seriously delinquent was 5.29 percent in November, more than doubling the rate of 2.13 percent in November 2008. Borrowers are considered seriously delinquent if they are past due by three months or more, or are in foreclosure.

Last month’s foreclosure activity followed a pattern similar to that of a year ago, when a double-digit percentage increase in December was followed by a 10 percent drop in January.

The dip in January’s numbers may be due to processing delays by lenders during the end-of-year holidays, said Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, which is based in Irvine, Calif.

A record 2.8 million households were threatened with foreclosure last year, and the numbers are expected to rise to between 3 million and 3.5 million homes this year, RealtyTrac said.

Foreclosed homes are usually sold at steep discounts, so they often lower the value of surrounding properties. Cities lose property tax dollars from foreclosure homes that sit empty and from declining home values, straining local economies. Home prices have stabilized in some cities, but are still down 30 percent nationally from mid-2006.

Economic issues, such as unemployment or reduced income, are expected to be the main catalysts for foreclosures this year. Initially, subprime mortgages were mostly the culprit, but homeowners with good credit who took out conventional, fixed-rate loans are the fastest-growing group of foreclosures.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 19 170
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 20 118 736
BUSINESS LICENSES 27 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0