Hitwise, a Web metrics company, reported in its corporate blog this week that online search-engine queries including the phrase "foreclosure" have increased considerably in the past weeks.

Hitwise, a Web metrics company, reported in its corporate blog this week that online search-engine queries including the phrase "foreclosure" have increased considerably in the past weeks.

Searches including the term "foreclosure" peaked during the week ending Feb. 2, 2008, and hit the second-highest and third-highest levels in the weeks ending Feb. 28 and March 7 of this year.

Last year’s spike followed media coverage of U.S. cities with the highest rates of foreclosure, with many searches featuring the phrases "what is foreclosure" and "highest foreclosure cities."

For the four-week period ending March 7, 2009, searches for "free foreclosure listings" and "foreclosure listings" topped the list of search phrases containing "foreclosure," Hitwise reported.

The blog references a March 11 Wall Street Journal article, which details the problem homebuilders are facing in trying to sell new homes in the same development areas where foreclosed, bank-owned properties are also for sale at a lower price.

The article provides an example of a new home that builder Pulte Homes Inc. is trying to sell for $214,990 near Las Vegas while a similar house Pulte built two years ago is on the market for $149,999 as a potential short sale.

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