Bloomberg News

Foreclosure Filings Increase in 60% of Large U.S. Cities

July 26, 2012

Foreclosure filings rose in almost 60 percent of large U.S. cities in the first half of 2012, indicating many areas will have more distressed homes on the market later this year, RealtyTrac Inc. reported.

More than 1 million homes in metropolitan areas with populations of at least 200,000 received notices of default, auction or repossession, up 1.5 percent from the last six months of 2011, the Irvine, California-based data provider said today in a statement. Among the 20 largest markets, Tampa, Florida; Philadelphia; Chicago and New York City had the biggest percentage increases in filings.

The gain in foreclosure actions followed a probe into abusive lender practices that delayed bank seizures nationwide. More repossessions will buoy deals “in many local markets where a shortage of aggressively priced inventory has been holding up sales,” RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer Brandon Moore said in the statement.

A $25 billion bank settlement announced Feb. 9 eased loan terms for some borrowers and set new guidelines for the five largest U.S. mortgage providers. Recent laws passed in Nevada and California, meanwhile, have made it harder for loan servicers to resume property seizures, Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

The new regulations have been “a clock-stopper on lenders and led to more artificial decreases,” he said. Throughout the U.S., first-half filings, while up from the previous six months, were down almost 11 percent from a year earlier, RealtyTrac said.

California Cities

Even with new California laws, seven metro areas in the state ranked among the 10 highest for rates of foreclosure fillings per household, according to the company. The top three spots were held by Stockton, Modesto and Riverside, even as each city posted lower totals than a year earlier. Phoenix and Las Vegas also had decreasing tallies, while Atlanta filings rose 4.8 percent for the only gain among the top 10.

In Tampa, where filings gained 47 percent from the latter half of last year, an 18-month backlog of bank-owned properties is compounded by widespread negative equity, Blomquist said. Almost half of residents in the area with a mortgage owe more than their homes are worth, he said.

Chicago, where 46 percent of borrowers have negative equity, has an aging inventory of “highly distressed inner-city homes” and many homeowners with subprime loans, Blomquist said. Investors scouring the U.S. for properties to fix up are shunning those neighborhoods, he said.

Tight Supplies

Delayed seizures have contributed to tight supplies of homes for sale. The number of U.S. single-family houses, condos, townhomes and co-ops on the market last month dropped 19 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors’ website.

Across the nation, one in 126 households received a foreclosure notice in the first half, RealtyTrac said. Of the 212 metro areas with at least 200,000 residents, 125 cities had an increase in filings from the latter half of 2011.

Seattle had the biggest drop among the 20 largest metro areas, with notices down 24 percent. Filings fell 21 percent in San Francisco, 17 percent in Detroit, 13 percent in Los Angeles, 12 percent in Boston and 11 percent in San Diego, according to RealtyTrac.

The company sells default data from more than 2,200 counties representing 90 percent of the U.S. population.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Levy in San Francisco at dlevy13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net


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