U.S. foreclosures fall in July -RealtyTrac

NEW YORK Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:01am EDT

NEW YORK Aug 11 (Reuters) - The number of U.S. homes that received foreclosures filings fell to a near four year low in July, a survey said on Thursday.

Notice of default, auction sale or bank repossession were sent to 212,764 properties in July, the lowest number since November 2007, real estate data firm RealtyTrac said.

That represents a 4 percent decrease over June and a 35 percent decrease over last year.

"The downward trend in foreclosure activity has now taken on a life of its own," James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac, said in a statement. The robo-signing controversy last year, which forced banks to slow the pace of foreclosures, plus government programs to help struggling homeowners stave off repossession may explain the drop, he said.

One in every 611 U.S. homes received a foreclosure filing last month.

Default notices were down 58 percent from their peak in April 2009, while bank repossesions saw a 34 percent decline from their September 2010 high.

Nevada posted the nation's highest foreclosure rate for the 55th straight month, with one in every 115 houses receiving a foreclosure filing. California and Arizona also posted high rates of foreclosure.

"Unfortunately, the falloff in foreclosures is not based on a robust recovery in the housing market but on short-term interventions and delays that will extend the current housing market woes into 2012 and beyond," said Saccacio, who noted that only vigorous economic growth and a strong job market would buoy a housing recovery.

The U.S. housing market crash three years ago wiped out trillions of dollars in home equity, and low demand caused by the U.S. recession plus the slow pace of foreclosures has kept the glut of unsold homes from playing out.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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