US March foreclosures rise on month, fall on year

NEW YORK Tue May 1, 2012 12:52pm EDT

NEW YORK May 1 (Reuters) - Slightly more foreclosures on U.S. homes were completed in March compared to the month before, though levels were still below those seen a year ago, data analysis firm CoreLogic said on Tuesday.

There were 69,000 completed foreclosures in March, up from a revised 66,000 finished in February, but down from 85,000 in March of last year.

In the first quarter, 198,000 foreclosures were completed, off from the 232,000 seen in the first three months of 2011. Since the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, there have been about 3.5 million completed foreclosures, CoreLogic said.

A home has completed the foreclosure process when it has been either seized by the lender or sold.

At the same time, there were fewer homes awaiting foreclosure. Foreclosure inventory fell to about 1.4 million homes, or 3.4 percent of all homes with a mortgage, down from 1.5 million, or 3.5 percent, a year ago.

The figures suggest alternatives to foreclosure, such as loan modifications and short sales, are being used to clear the inventory, Anand Nallathambi, chief executive officer of CoreLogic, said in a statement.

The share of borrowers that were more than 90 days behind on their mortgage was unchanged at 7 percent from the previous month, and down from 7.5 percent a year ago.

The inventory of homes held by servicers grew more slowly than the pace of sales and CoreLogic's distressed clearing ratio rose to 0.81 from 0.76 in February.

A higher ratio shows a faster rate of home sales compared to completed foreclosures.

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