Out of Control Policy Blog

Foreclosure Activity Picking Up Again

The department of bad news issues the following report via the AP:

The number of U.S. homes that received an initial default notice -- the first step in the foreclosure process -- jumped 33 percent in August from July, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

The increase represents a nine-month high and the biggest monthly gain in four years. The spike signals banks are starting to take swifter action against homeowners, nearly a year after processing issues led to a sharp slowdown in foreclosures.

"This is really the first time we've seen a significant increase in the number of new foreclosure actions," said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. "It's still possible this is a blip, but I think it's much more likely we're seeing the beginning of a trend here."

Foreclosure activity began to slow last fall after problems surfaced with the way many lenders were handling foreclosure paperwork, namely shoddy mortgage paperwork comprising several shortcuts known collectively as robo-signing.

Many of the nation's largest banks reacted by temporarily ceasing all foreclosures, re-filing previously filed foreclosure cases and revisiting pending cases to prevent errors.

Other factors have also worked to stall the pace of new foreclosures this year. The process has been held up by court delays in states where judges play a role in the foreclosure process, a possible settlement of government probes into the industry's mortgage-lending practices, and lenders' reluctance to take back properties amid slowing home sales.

A pickup in foreclosure activity also means a potentially faster turnaround for the U.S. housing market. Experts say a revival isn't likely to occur as long as there remains a glut of potential foreclosures hovering over the market.

Read the whole piece here.

We noted back in March data indicating that the foreclosure crisis was still looking like the annoying dinner table guest who won't shut up or leave.

Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research


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