Foreclosure Filings Increase By 21%

IRVINE, CA-A massive supply of delinquent loans continues to loom over the housing market, and many of those delinquencies will end up in the foreclosure process in 2010 and beyond as lenders gradually work their way through the backlog.

Recent data from RealtyTrac showed over 3.9 million foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossession were reported on 2.8 million properties in 2009, up 21% from 2008 and 120% from 2007.

"As bad as the 2009 numbers are, they probably would have been worse if not for legislative and industry-related delays in processing delinquent loans," said James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac here.

"After peaking in July with over 361,000 homes receiving a foreclosure notice, we saw four straight monthly decreases driven primarily by short-term factors: trial loan modifications, state legislation extending the foreclosure process and an overwhelming volume of inventory clogging the foreclosure pipeline."

Despite all the delays, foreclosure activity still hit a record high for the company's yearend 2009 Foreclosure Market Report, capped off by a substantial increase in December, Mr. Saccacio said.

More than 10% of Nevada housing units received at least one foreclosure filing in 2009, giving it the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the third consecutive year. Nevada activity in December increased 27% from November but was still down 22% from December 2008.

Fourth-quarter foreclosure activity in Nevada was down 37% from the previous quarter thanks to substantial decreases in October and November.

Arizona registered the nation's second highest state foreclosure rate in 2009, with more than 6% of its housing units receiving at least one filing during the year, and Florida registered the nation's third highest rate, with 5.93% of its housing units receiving at least one filing in 2009.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the nation's 10 highest were California (4.75%), Utah (2.93%), Idaho (2.72%), Georgia (2.68%), Michigan (2.61%), Illinois (2.5%) and Colorado (2.37%).

California, Florida, Arizona and Illinois accounted for more than 50% of the nation's 2009 total, with more than 1.4 million properties receiving a foreclosure filing.

In California, 632,573 properties received a filing in 2009, up 21% from 2008. Florida reported 516,711 properties with filings, a 34% increase over 2008. Activity in Arizona included 163,210 properties with a filing in 2009, up 40% from a year earlier. A total of 131,132 Illinois properties received a filing, an increase of 32% from 2008.

Other states with 2009 totals among the 10 highest in the country were Michigan (118,302), Nevada (112,097), Georgia (106,110), Ohio (101,614), Texas (100,045) and New Jersey (63,208).

Cities in four Sun Belt States accounted for all top 20 foreclosure rates in 2009, but activity spread into prior insulated areas.

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