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Foreclosure data provider addresses criticism over numbers

RealtyTrac to provide quarterly counts of 'unique households' in foreclosure

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Responding to critics who say its reports overstate the magnitude of the housing downturn, RealtyTrac next week plans to begin providing quarterly, state-by-state breakouts of the number of unique households that are in some stage of the foreclosure process, while continuing to provide its monthly reports on total foreclosure filings. RealtyTrac's reports have been criticized by groups such as the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Colorado Division of Housing as misleading, because some properties may be counted more than once as they move through the foreclosure process. In many states where the foreclosure process occurs in stages, legal notices are filed when a lender issues a notice of default, and again before a property is put up for sale. If the property does not sell at auction, another foreclosure filing is also made when it is repossessed by the lender. Although RealtyTrac says it's unlikely for a property moving through the foreclosure process to generate two...