Fri, Jan 13, 2012 - Page 10 News List

US banks could seize more than million homes: report

Bloomberg

Banks may seize more than 1 million US homes this year after legal scrutiny of their foreclosure practices slowed actions against delinquent property owners last year, RealtyTrac Inc said.

About 1.89 million properties received notices of default, auction or repossession last year, down 34 percent from 2010 and the lowest number since 2007, the Irvine, California-based data seller said yesterday in a statement. One in 69 US households received a filing.

While the seizure process has been “highly dysfunctional,” there were “strong signs in the second half of 2011 that lenders are finally beginning to push through some of the delayed foreclosures in select local markets,” RealtyTrac chief executive officer Brandon Moore said in the statement.

The number of home repossessions is likely to rise about 25 percent from the more than 804,000 properties seized last year as lenders resume foreclosure actions, Daren Blomquist, a spokesman for RealtyTrac, said in a telephone interview.

Settlement talks are continuing with state attorneys general over documentation flaws, known as “robo-signing,” that surfaced in October 2010.

About 400,000 additional homes would have been repossessed without the slowdown, Blomquist said.

The ramp-up in foreclosure proceedings that began in the second half of last year is likely to continue this year, Moore said in the statement.

Foreclosure filings totaled almost 2.7 million last year as some properties got multiple notices, RealtyTrac said.

Nevada had the nation’s highest rate of foreclosure filings per household for the fifth straight year, at one in 16, while total filings were down 31 percent from 2010.

A new state law that took effect in October last year requires lenders to file an additional affidavit before starting the foreclosure process.

Arizona had the second highest foreclosure rate, with one in 24 households receiving a notice, and California ranked third at one in 31.

Georgia was fourth, with one in 37, and Utah fifth at one in 43, according to RealtyTrac.

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