AP, Dec. 19, 2007
U.S. homeowners increasingly failed to keep up with their home loan payments in November, as the number of foreclosure filings surged 68 percent nationwide compared with the same month a year ago, according to a mortgage research company. In all, 201,950 foreclosure filings were reported last month, compared with 120,334 in November 2006, Irvine-based RealtyTrac Inc. said Wednesday. Last month’s filings fell 10 percent from October’s 224,451. The last time there was a sequential drop in foreclosure filings was between August and September, when they fell 8 percent. “It’s a little bit of good news in the otherwise murky real estate market right now,” said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac’s vice president of marketing. “The fact that we’re seeing a 10 percent decrease is significant. It’s good.” The U.S. had one foreclosure filing for every 617 households in November, RealtyTrac said. The filings include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. Some properties might have received more than one notice if the owners have multiple mortgages. Forty-three states saw an increase in foreclosure filings over last year. The decline in filings from October to November likely corresponds with a lull in adjustable-rate mortgage resets, Sharga said. Such loans typically have a low introductory interest rate, then reset sharply higher after a set period. The number of borrowers who took on adjustable-rate mortgages offering a teaser rate for just two or three years rose sharply in the last couple of years of the housing boom, particularly in high-priced states such as California. But many borrowers have been unable to afford the increased payments that come with the resets, and falling housing prices have made it harder to refinance or sell. A flood of rate resets for such loans has helped drive up the number of home loan defaults in the last few months. “We’ll see another fairly big spike in (foreclosure) filings in early ’08,” Sharga said. “Then there’s another group of loans that’s due to reset in May and June, so we’ll see another wave of defaults probably in the fall.” Experts estimate some 2 million adjustable-rate mortgages are due to reset at higher rates in the next seven months. Nevada, Florida and Ohio had the highest foreclosure filing rates in the country last month, RealtyTrac said. Nevada reported one foreclosure filing for every 152 households, earning the state the highest rate in the nation for the 11th month in a row. The state had 6,694 filings in November, up 1 percent from October and up 167 percent from November 2006. Florida had one foreclosure filing for every 282 households. The state reported 29,238 filings last month, down more 3 percent from October, but up 212 percent from November last year. Ohio reported one foreclosure filing for every 307 households. The state had 16,308 filings last month, down nearly 6 percent from October and nearly double the number from November 2006. California had 39,992 foreclosure filings last month, up 108 percent from a year earlier and the most in the nation. Its foreclosure rate was one filing for every 325 households. The state’s filings fell 21 percent from October’s total. Rounding out the states with the top 10 foreclosure filing rates in November were Colorado, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, Indiana and Illinois.