NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. home loans failed at a record pace in July despite ongoing federal and state programs to avoid foreclosures, which have severely strained housing and the economy.
Foreclosure activity jumped 7 percent in July from June and 32 percent from a year earlier as one in every 355 households with a loan got a foreclosure filing, RealtyTrac said on Thursday.
Filings — including notices of default, auction and bank repossession — have escalated with unemployment.
“July marks the third time in the last five months where we’ve seen a new record set for foreclosure activity,” James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s chief executive, said in a statement.
“Despite continued efforts by the federal government and state governments to patch together a safety net for distressed homeowners, we’re seeing significant growth in both the initial notices of default and in the bank repossessions.”
More than 360,000 households with loans drew a foreclosure filing in July, a record dating back to January 2005, when RealtyTrac started tracking monthly activity.
Notices of default, auction or repossession have reached nearly 2.3 million in the first seven months of the year — with more than half a million bank repossessions, the Irvine, California-based company said.
Making timely payments keeps getting harder for borrowers who have lost their jobs or seen their wages cut.
The unemployment rate is 9.4 percent and President Barack Obama has said he expects it will hit 10 percent.
Obama’s housing rescue is gaining traction in altering terms of loans for struggling borrowers, but slowly.
Earlier this month the U.S. Treasury Department detailed the progress of the top servicers in modifying loans and prodded them to step up efforts to stem foreclosures.
States where sales and prices surged most in the five-year housing boom early this decade remain hardest hit.
California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada accounted for almost 57 percent of total U.S. foreclosure activity in July.
Illinois had the fifth-highest total filings, spiking nearly 35 percent from June, in an example of how moratoriums often delay rather than cure an inevitable loan failure.
Default notices spiked by 86 percent in July, from artificially low levels the prior two months. A state law enacted on April 5 gave delinquent borrowers up to 90 extra days before foreclosure started, RealtyTrac said.
Michigan’s foreclosure activity fell 39 percent in July from June, mostly due to a 66 percent drop in scheduled auctions. A state law that took effect July 6 freezes foreclosure proceedings an extra 90 days for homeowners who commit to work on a loan modification plan.
Other states with the highest foreclosure filing totals last month included Texas, Georgia, Ohio and New Jersey.
Nevada had the highest state foreclosure rate for the 31st straight month, with one in every 56 properties getting a filing, or more than six times the national average.
Initial notices of default fell 18 percent in the month, with a new Nevada law taking effect on July 1 requiring lenders to offer mediation to homeowners facing foreclosure. Scheduled auctions and bank repossessions each jumped more than 20 percent, however, boosting overall foreclosure activity in the state by 4 percent from June.
California, Arizona, Florida, Utah, Idaho, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado and Oregon were the other states with the highest foreclosure rates.
Editing by Kenneth Barry