Foreclosures almost doubled from '06: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Residential foreclosure filings nearly doubled last quarter from a year earlier, and appear set to increase into 2008, a report said on Thursday.

A foreclosure sign in front of a home at 1456 Albillo Loop in Perris, California May 2, 2007. Residential foreclosure filings nearly doubled last quarter from a year earlier, and appear set to increase into 2008, a report said on Thursday. REUTERS/Mark Avery

Foreclosure filings for July-September rose to 635,159, representing one in every 196 households and a 30 percent jump from the second quarter, according to RealtyTrac, a marketer of foreclosure properties based in Irvine, California.

The level climbed in 45 out of 50 states in the quarter, led by Nevada, California and Florida, the report said. Little relief is expected as rising payments on some $650 billion in adjustable-rate loans from the current quarter through the end of 2008 will continue to pinch homeowners’ budgets.

“Given the number of loans due to reset through the middle of 2008, and the continuing weakness in home sales, we would expect foreclosure activity to remain high and even increase over the next year in many markets,” James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.

Foreclosure filings recorded by RealtyTrac include default notices, auction sales notices and bank repossessions.

The trend is most pronounced among borrowers with subprime credit who due to tighter lending standards and declines in home prices have found themselves unable to refinance loans before payments rise. The foreclosure rate on these mortgages has climbed to about 6 percent in August from less than 3 percent a year earlier, and will likely peak near 10 percent by the end of 2008, according to Credit Suisse research.

The foreclosure rate will likely stay high until 2010, when it will gradually decline as credit stabilizes and good loans remaining represent a larger percentage of the total, Credit Suisse said.

Foreclosures in Nevada last quarter increased 23 percent from the second quarter and were more than three times that seen a year earlier, with 16,817 filings on 12,982 properties, RealtyTrac said. It had the highest rate of filings at one in every 61 households.

In California, 148,147 foreclosure filings on 94,772 properties represented a 36 percent rise from the previous quarter and were nearly four times that of a year ago.

Florida’s foreclosures rose more than 50 percent from the second quarter, with 86,465 filings on 60,992 properties. The total was more than double that of a year earlier.

Curbing foreclosures has become a priority of many mortgage companies, which under guidance from the U.S. Treasury last month formed a coalition to help hard-pressed homeowners. Mortgage servicers are being pushed to modify existing loans where possible to prevent foreclosure, which can be more costly for lenders and investors.

Countrywide Financial Corp CFC.N, the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, recently announced a program that would refinance or modify up to $16 billion in adjustable-rate loans for more than 80,000 borrowers, including those already delinquent after interest rate resets.

Such programs could result in a “paradigm shift of future performance,” despite an “anemic” rate of loan modifications at present, the Credit Suisse analysts wrote.