Postings of new notices of foreclosure auctions in the Phoenix metropolitan area have reached nearly 1,500 per month, according to Foreclosures.com, a Fair Oaks, Calif.-based investment advisory firm specializing in distressed property.In the first nine weeks of 2004, 3,285 properties in the Phoenix area have gone into foreclosure, said company president Alexis McGee. Ms. McGee attributed the wave of foreclosures to several factors. "First of all, during the recent boom in home prices and sales volume, lenders relaxed their qualification standards to get more people into homes," she said. "Secondly, record low interest rates have led homeowners to overleverage their properties, pulling out cash for major purchases and to refinance high-interest credit card balances." Ms. McGee also cited predatory lending as a factor. "Until there is a law for the attorney general to enforce, it's still the Wild West in Arizona as far as abusive lending is concerned." The investment advisory firm can be found on the Web at http://www.foreclosures.com.

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