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Foreclosures on Track for Derailment

RealtyTrac reports 130,786 February filings

March 27, 2007

By Mortgage Daily staff

Monthly foreclosures fell nationwide but are on track to soar this year, according to the latest report. Meanwhile, in the nation's capital, mortgage brokers recently defended their role with rising foreclosures.

In February, foreclosure filings totaled 130,786, RealtyTrac reported Monday. The latest month was down 4 percent from the revised figure for the January but 12 percent above the same month a year earlier.

The national foreclosure rate was one filing for every 884 U.S. properties, the statement said.

Based on data for the first two months of 2007, foreclosure activity is running at a rate that indicates a 33 percent rise this year over 2006, RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio, said in the announcement. Higher than anticipated defaults on subprime and FHA mortgages as well as tighter underwriting guidelines will cause a spike in foreclosures.

In recent testimony before Congress, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers defended the role of its members.

"Before we rush to judgment and conclude that a particular segment of the mortgage market or practice is largely responsible for the increase in home foreclosures, it is imperative to first examine and verify the true causal factors for the increase in mortgage delinquencies and home foreclosures," NAMB President Harry Dinham reportedly said.

The trade group identified over 30 influential factors but has called on the U.S. Government Accountability Office to narrow the list to most common contributors.

While the market is correcting itself after a period of unprecedented access to credit, many challenges still exist, NAMB said. Thereby, quickly enacting new legislation could be detrimental to the long-term health of home ownership.

"No one questions the personal heartbreak of foreclosure or the serious affect this is having on America's cities," Dinham added. ."Now is the time for legislators and the industry to make sure that mechanisms are in place to preserve the vitality of our cities and the dream of responsible home ownership."

For the second month in a row, Nevada had the nation's highest foreclosure rate -- one filing for every 278 homes -- due to a 24 percent increase in filings during February, RealtyTrac reported in its announcement.

Colorado came in second as a 9 percent month-to-month increase in filings gave it a foreclosure rate of one filing for every 345 households, the Irvine, Calif.-based foreclosure research company added.

Florida's reported foreclosure rate of one filing for every 382 properties was the third highest in the nation. But with 19,144 filings -- a 63 percent surge from January -- was the most of any state.

Completing the top 10 foreclosure rate states were Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, Arizona and Indiana, according to RealtyTrac's announcement.

The states with the three-lowest foreclosure rates were Vermont, Maine and West Virginia, which, in that order, were also the states with lowest number of foreclosure filings in February, RealtyTrac said.

California's 16,273 foreclosure filings rose from the previous month to account for the second-highest total of all states, followed by Texas' 12,386, which were down nearly 16 percent from January, the announcement read., a competing foreclosure researcher, reported that February foreclosure filings numbered 106,074, decreasing about 3 percent from January but almost 65 percent higher than in February 2006.

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