Foreclosures, Meltdown, Negative Equity, News

Home foreclosure rates skyrocket

 

From CNN:

The foreclosure picture suddenly darkened again in February.

More than 74,000 homes were lost to bank repossessions during the month, up from 67,000 in January, according to a regular monthly report from RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed properties. Nearly 1.2 million have been lost since the foreclosure crisis hit in August 2007.

The number of foreclosure filings rose 6% during the month after falling 10% in January. Worse, filings leaped nearly 30% compared with February 2008. And the results confounded expectations: A downtrend had been expected due to the numerous foreclosure moratoriums in effect during the month.

“We were very surprised,” said RealtyTrac spokesman Rick Sharga. “The moratorium were led by big players like Fannie and Freddie and all the major banks. It was supposed to cover the whole waterfront. The fact that foreclosures still went up was a shock.”

A particularly troubling aspect of the report was that, for many borrowers, once they go into default, they never get out despite moratorium efforts. That’s borne out by comparing bank repossessions - homes actually lost by borrowers - with total foreclosure filings: Nationally, repossessions increased 11% for the month, almost double the 6% rise for filings.

The same holds true for year-over-year figures: February filings jumped 30% compared with last year but repossessions rang up a 60% gain.

The reason so many people lose their homes once they are in default is partially attributed to the severe home price drops recorded in many of the worst-hit areas. When borrowers are severely underwater, owing more than their homes are worth, it removes an incentive to keep up with mortgage payments. Some simply walk away.

I don’t know how anyone who has followed the real estate market could find this jump in foreclosures surprising. At the end of last year was the peak in subprime resets, which were most likely not as dramatic given the current LIBOR. But add to it rising unemployment, and the dramatic loss in home values, it is hardly shocking that foreclosures are on the rise - despite the actions of some lenders to hold off.

 

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