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2008: A Foreclosure Nightmare

RealtyTrac reports 370,354 December filings

January 15, 2009

By staff

California, Florida and Nevada led a surge in U.S. foreclosure activity last year. Although filings began easing last fall, activity reversed in December.

A report released today from RealtyTrac indicated 3,157,806 foreclosures were filed on 2,330,483 U.S. properties during 2008. RealtyTrac previously reported that 1.8 million foreclosure filings were made on 1.0 million properties the prior year. Foreclosures were up 225 percent from 2006 -- when loan performance first began deteriorating.

RealtyTrac, based in Irvine, Calif., said its findings were based on a database of more than 1.5 million properties in 2,200 counties. Filings include notices-of-default and Lis Pendens, notices-of-trustee and foreclosure sales, and real estate owned

With 837,665 filings, California had more foreclosures than any other state. The report indicated filings in the Golden State subsided in August -- when SB 1137 began requiring lenders to issue a notice-of-intent to foreclose 30 days before issuing a notice-of-default -- then surged last month.

"Similar patterns have occurred in other states, such as Massachusetts and Maryland, where similar types of foreclosure prevention legislation has been enacted," RealtyTrac said.

No. 2 was Florida, which had 501,396 filings, then Arizona, at 152,621, and Ohio, which had 146,099 foreclosures. No. 5 was Michigan, with 145,365 filings last year.

Looking at just the fourth quarter, 908,900 foreclosures were filed, climbing from 842,018 in the third quarter and 642,150 a in the fourth-quarter 2007.

"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," RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio stated in the announcement.

Data from RealtyTrac indicate December foreclosure filings were 370,354, jumping from 259,085 in November and 215,749 a year earlier.

"The big jump in December foreclosure activity was somewhat surprising given the moratoria enacted by both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, along with programs from some of the major lenders and loan servicers," Saccacio said.

The U.S. foreclosure rate was 1.84 percent last year, climbing from 1.033 percent in 2007.

Nevada had the highest 2008 rate, 7.29 percent, followed by Florida, with 4.52 percent, and Arizona, at 4.49 percent. Next was California, with a 3.97 percent foreclosure rate, and Colorado, which had a 2.41 percent rate.

The highest metropolitan foreclosure rate was in Stockton, Calif., where 9.46 percent of total housing units were foreclosed upon during 2008. Las Vegas followed, with an 8.89 percent rate, then Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., at 8.02 percent; Bakersfield, Calif., with a 6.17 percent rate; and Sacramento, Calif., at 5.20 percent.

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