Foreclosures Surge Higher in March

By Kevin Chiu

Foreclosure notices jumped almost 19% in March from the previous month, and ended the quarter a full 7% above the last quarter of 2009, according to the monthly Realty Trac report. The surge in foreclosures starting the process to be repossessed by lenders indicates a major rise in the number of homes bankers are taking back.

Foreclosure Notice Posted on a Home

Current market conditions show about two-thirds of all homes that are receiving intial foreclosure notices are actually being foreclosed. Mortgage holders are being aided by a series of White House measures aimed at keeping homeowners in their homes, including refinancing through an FHA program established to refinance under water loans and mortgage modifications.

A new program is also intended to help mortgage holders at risk of foreclosure in the ten states most heavily impacted by the foreclosure crisis, but isn’t expected to get underway for at least several more weeks, according to government officials.

Foreclosure filings were made against 367,056 residential properties in March, representing the highest monthly total since Realty Trac began tracking filings in January 2005. “Foreclosure activity in the first quarter of 2010 followed a very similar pattern to what we saw in the first quarter of 2009,” said Realty Trac CEO James Saccacio.

However, REOs or property that is owned by the bank, Real Estate Owned homes rose 9% during the quarter compared to a 13% drop a year earlier. Moratoriums implemented by state and county government’s and court actions against mortgage lenders contributed to the temporary decline.

Foreclosures also reached a new high in the first quarter with 257,944 residential properties being fully repossessed by lenders. The surge represents 2,866 homes a day that are being taken back by bankers. The figure marked a 9% rise over the previous quarter and an increase of 35% over the same period a year ago.

Nevada maintained its’ position as the nation’s highest foreclosure state. One of every 33 housing units in the state was tagged with a foreclosure notice during the quarter, more than four times the national average. Foreclosure activity in Arizona sent the state to post the second highest number followed by Florida, which took the third position.

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