Realty Check

'Foreclosure Activity Is Coming Out of a Rain Delay'

After a year of delays and denials in the so-called "robo-signing" foreclosure paperwork scandal, loan servicers and judges alike are putting the process back in place.

Foreclosure Sign
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Foreclosure filings, from the first notice of default to the final bank repossession, were reported on nearly 231,000 properties in October, according to RealtyTrac, a seven percent jump from the previous month, but still down nearly 31 percent from last October, when the foreclosure machine ground to a veritable halt.

“The October foreclosure numbers continue to show strong signs that foreclosure activity is coming out of the rain delay we’ve been in for the past year as lenders corrected foreclosure paperwork and processing problems,” said James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “However, recent state court rulings and new state laws keep changing the rules of the foreclosure game on the fly, creating more uncertainty in the housing market and threatening to prolong the road to a robust real estate recovery.”

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the state of Nevada, which has held the dubious distinction of the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for 58 straight months.

It's still in the number one spot, but foreclosure activity there dropped 34 percent month-to-month due to a new law that took effect in October.

It requires lenders to sign and record in public records an affidavit with information about the foreclosure on it.

Servicers are still working out the new process, and experts we've spoken to say the numbers should shoot back up in a few months.

Meanwhile, in states where foreclosures go through judicial proceedings, courts are finally starting the machine again.

New Jersey, for example, saw a 48 percent jump in bank repossessions, and in Indiana banks took back 73 percent more homes than the previous month.

Nationwide, lenders repossessed 67,624 properties in October. New default notices, the first stage of foreclosure, rose the most, as lenders push long-delinquent borrowers into the pipeline.

They were up 10 percent from September nationally, but up 28 percent in Florida, 50 percent in Pennsylvania and 61 percent in Indiana.

These numbers may slow temporarily during the holiday season, as they historically do, but these signs from October point to a new surge of distressed properties hitting the market in the new year.

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