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Foreclosures in 2008 Up Eight-One Percent

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Posted on 15 Jan 2009

RealtyTrac reported on Thursday that U.S. foreclosure activity jumped 81 percent in 2008, with one in every 54 households getting at least one filing notice, suggesting various state laws and private programs to slow the process have been ineffective.

Nearly 3.2 million foreclosure filings on 2.3 million properties were made last year, the Irvine, California-based research firm said. Filings include notice of default, auction sale or bank repossession.

"Clearly the foreclosure prevention programs implemented to date have not had any real success in slowing down this foreclosure tsunami," James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in the report.

Foreclosure activity did slow in the fourth quarter overall, declining 4 percent from the third quarter, but jumped nearly 40 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007.

And foreclosure activity last year was up 225 percent from 2006, the year home prices began a deep slump that prevented many homeowners from selling or refinancing.

Home prices have plunged more than 20 percent from the summer of 2006, according to Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller measures.

Filings leaped by 17 percent in December from November.

"State legislation that slowed down the onset of new foreclosure activity clearly had an effect on fourth-quarter numbers overall, but that effect appears to have worn off by December," Saccacio said.

"The recent California law, much like its predecessors in Massachusetts and Maryland, appears to have done little more than delay the inevitable foreclosure proceedings for thousands of homeowners," Saccacio said.

California required lenders to provide written notice of their intent to start foreclosure proceedings 30 days prior to issuing a notice of default.

Nevada, Florida, Arizona and California, respectively, posted the highest state foreclosure rates last year, RealtyTrac said.

These are states where home prices soared the most during the five-year housing boom earlier this decade.


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