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RealtyTrac: More Than One Million Homes Seized by Lenders in 2010

Lenders repossessed 1,050,500 homes last year, according to the 2010 end-of-year foreclosure report from ""RealtyTrac"":http://www.realtytrac.com.

The annual figure marks a record-high number of new bank-owned properties tracked by the company. The 2010 tally is up 14 percent from the previous year, when banks seized 918,376 homes, according to RealtyTrac's historical data.

Just to put things into perspective, in 2008 RealtyTrac reports there were 861,664 new REOs. That year the figure more than doubled from 2007, when there were 404,849 newly repossessed homes. In 2006, RealtyTrac tracked 268,532 new REOs.

While the number of homes taken back by lenders jumped by more than 130,000 from 2009 to 2010, RealtyTrac's data show the number of default filings declined by 20 percent over the same period. The industry is still wading through a severe backlog of unpaid mortgages, but with new defaults apparently tapering off, it's plausible that the size of that backlog may begin contracting.

According to RealtyTrac's 2010 report, a total of 3,825,637 foreclosure filings - including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions - were reported on a record 2,871,891 U.S. properties during the year. The company says 2.23 percent of all U.S. housing units, or one in 45, received at least one foreclosure filing last year.

Total filings are up nearly 2 percent from 2009 and 23 percent from 2008, despite a sharp drop-off in activity during the latter part of 2010.

Foreclosure filings were reported on 257,747 properties during the month of December, a decrease of nearly 2 percent from the previous month and down 26 percent from December 2009.

It's the biggest annual drop in foreclosure activity for any one month since RealtyTrac began publishing its foreclosure report in January 2005. December's total


filings are the lowest monthly total recorded by the company since June 2008.

Fourth-quarter activity overall dropped considerably, with filings during the October to December timeframe down 14 percent from the previous quarter and 8 percent lower than the same period last year. The fourth quarter total was the lowest quarterly total since Q4 2008.

“Total properties receiving foreclosure filings would have easily exceeded 3 million in 2010 had it not been for the fourth quarter drop in foreclosure activity, triggered primarily by the continuing controversy surrounding foreclosure documentation,” said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac's CEO.

“Even so, 2010 foreclosure activity still hit a record high for our report, and many of the foreclosure proceedings that were stopped in late 2010 â€" which we estimate may be as high as a quarter million â€" will likely be re-started and add to the numbers in early 2011,” Saccacio added.

All the usual suspects held their spots at the top of RealtyTrac’s list of states with the highest foreclosure rates for the 2010 calendar year. The company pointed out, however, that foreclosure activity dropped 22 percent in December in the judicial state of Florida, although bank repossessions spiked more than 45 percent that month in Nevada, Arizona, and California.

More than 9 percent of Nevada housing units (one in 11) received at least one foreclosure filing in 2010, giving it the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the fourth consecutive year, despite a 5 percent decrease in foreclosure activity from 2009.

Arizona registered the nation’s second highest state foreclosure rate for the second year in a row, with 5.73 percent of its homes (one in 17) receiving at least one foreclosure filing in 2010.

Florida claimed the nation’s third highest foreclosure rate, with 5.51 percent of its housing units (one in 18) receiving at least one foreclosure filing during the year.

Other states with 2010 foreclosure rates ranking among the nation’s 10 highest were: California (4.08 percent), Utah (3.44 percent), Georgia (3.25 percent), Michigan (3.00 percent), Idaho (2.98 percent), Illinois (2.87 percent), and Colorado (2.51 percent).

RealtyTrac says five states accounted for 51 percent of the nation’s total foreclosure activity in 2010: California, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, and Michigan. Together these five states documented nearly 1.5 million properties receiving a foreclosure filing during the year despite annual decreases in the three states with the most foreclosure activity.

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.

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