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US Foreclosures Continued to Rise in Third Quarter

The number of Americans receiving a foreclosure notice in the third quarter continued to grow, according to a new report, despite government programs intended to attack the problem.

Foreclosure
Photo: Jeff Turner
Foreclosure

Foreclosure notices were up 5 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter, and up 23 percent from the same quarter a year ago, according to a report released by foreclosure tracking Web site RealtyTrac. Foreclosure notices are defined as a default notice, bank repossession or auction sale notice.

In all, 937,840 properties in the US received foreclosure fillings in the third quarter.

“Foreclosure rates are rising because of unemployment,” says Rick Sharga, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. Those who were struggling to pay back subprime loans are now at the same time dealing with unemployment, he said. The national unemployment rate was at 9.8 percent in September.

The data comes a week after the Treasury said it had reached a goal of modifying the loans of 500,000 troubled homeowners ahead of schedule. The Making Home Affordable Program, which was launched in the Spring and now has the participation of four dozen loan servicers, is meant to head up 3-4 million home forclosures over the next two years.

The uneven results in the fight against foreclosures come as executives from some of the largest home mortgage lenders met this week at an annual Mortgage Bankers Association conference in San Diego.

In a speech at the event, Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America'shome loan and insurance unit, told attendees that while she sees some signs of improvement, “the environment is still relatively fragile."

In September alone, according to RealtyTrac, 343,638 homes received a foreclosure notice, up from 29 percent a year ago but down 4 percent from the previous month.

The states with the highest foreclosure rates didn't change much from the month before.

Nevada retained its spot as the state with the highest rate. Maryland jumped to the No. 10 spot after foreclosure notices increased 200 percent in September from the previous month.

Meanwhile, bank repossessions were up 21 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter.

“It indicates that more homes entering foreclosure are going back to the banks instead of being resolved,” said Sharga.

  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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