The number of properties subjected to foreclosure-related filings grew 7 percent from June to July, with one in 355 homes being hit with an initial default notice, notice of foreclosure sale, or foreclosed on and repurchased by a bank, data aggregator RealtyTrac reported today.

The 360,149 foreclosure-related filings tallied by RealtyTrac in July represented a 32 percent increase from a year ago, and the third record in five months.

"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," RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio said in a press release.

In Nevada, one in 56 homes was subjected to a foreclosure-related filing in July, more than six times the national average. Nevada has had the highest foreclosure rate of any state for nearly three years, and a new state law requiring lenders to offer mediation to homeowners facing foreclosure took effect July 1.

Critics of such measures say they provide little long-term relief for borrowers, and in many cases only postpone foreclosures rather than preventing them.

Initial default notices in Nevada fell 18 percent from June to July, RealtyTrac said, but scheduled auctions and bank repossessions in Nevada were both up more than 20 percent.

Through July, loan servicers participating in the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) had initiated trial modifications on only 9 percent of 2.7 million 60-day-delinquent loans that the Treasury Department identified as potentially eligible for the program, according to the first public report on their performance (see story).

All told, 230,000 trial modifications had been initiated from April through July, but the Obama administration still hopes to meet a goal of 3 million to 4 million HAMP modifications by Dec. 31, 2012.

A separate Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which is intended to help as many as 5 million borrowers with loan-to-value ratios of up to 125 percent refinance loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, expires June 10, 2010.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, today said that only 190,000 loans have been refinanced through the HARP program from April through July, although the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) have refinanced 2.9 million loans altogether this year.

Of the 190,000 loans refinanced through HARP, only about 60,000 were mortgages with loan-to-value ratios exceeding 80 percent — the group of borrowers the program was supposed to assist, by allowing them to refinance without added mortgage insurance requirements. …CONTINUED

After Nevada, states with foreclosure rates ranking among the nation’s 10 highest were California (one in 123 homes subjected to a foreclosure-related filing), Arizona (one in 135 homes), Florida, Utah, Idaho, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado and Oregon.

In terms of raw numbers, four states accounted for almost 57 percent of total foreclosure-related filings: California (108,104 properties), Flroida (56,486), Arizona (19,964), and Nevada (19,535).

Other states where new laws may be affecting foreclosure statistics include Illinois and Michigan.

In Illinois, where a law that went into effect April 5 gave delinquent borrowers extensions of up to 90 days before lenders could begin the foreclosure process, initial default notices were up 86 percent from June as the 90-day window of protection closed for many borrowers.

In Michigan, where a law enacted July 6 freezes foreclosure proceedings for 90 days when homeowners commit to work on a loan modification plan, notices of foreclosure sales were down 66 percent from June to July, RealtyTrac said.

Seven of the 10 hardest-hit metro areas with populations of at least 200,000 were in California: Stockton (one in 62 homes subjected to a foreclosure-related filing), Modesto (one in 63), Merced (one in 66), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (one in 67), Bakersfield (one in 76), Vallejo-Fairfield (one in 83), and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville (one in 105).

Las Vegas had the highest metro foreclosure rate, with one in 47 homes subjected to a foreclosure-related filing, and other cities on the top 10 list were Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. (one in 64), Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (one in 103).


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