The number of homes subjected to some kind of foreclosure filing was down 8 percent during the final three months of 2010 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the latest numbers from data aggregator RealtyTrac.

The drop was attributed to controversy surrounding foreclosure documentation and procedures that prompted many major lenders to temporarily halt some foreclosure proceedings.

All told, 799,064 homes were hit with foreclosure-related filings, RealtyTrac said — a 14 percent drop from the third quarter, and the lowest total in two years.

The filings included 236,347 default notices, which initiate the foreclosure process; 332,876 auction notices; and 229,841 lender repossessions into real estate owned (REO) inventory.

RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said as many as 250,000 foreclosure proceedings were put on hold in late 2010 — proceedings that will likely be restarted and add to the numbers in early 2011.

A Jan. 7 slip opinion by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upholding a lower court decision that two lenders had not demonstrated they held the mortgages on two homes they foreclosed on has led to speculation that what’s been dubbed as the "robo-signing" controversy will intensify.

But a new analysis by attorneys at K&L Gates concludes that "contrary to recent media commentary," the overall impact of the ruling "stands as a reaffirmation that the mortgage loan securitization processes currently in place in the secondary mortgage market are sound," and that those processes "validly assign mortgages for foreclosure purposes" according to Massachusetts law.

Top 10 state foreclosure rates Q4 2010


Properties with foreclosure filings

Change from year ago





1 in 31




1 in 68




1 in 77




1 in 80




1 in 91




1 in 103




1 in 109




1 in 114




1 in 127




1 in 137




1 in 162

Source: RealtyTrac

RealtyTrac’s numbers show that, for the year as a whole, a record 2.87 million properties were subjected to foreclosure-related filings in 2010, up nearly 2 percent from 2009 and 23 percent from 2008.

In the final three months of the year, Nevada, Arizona, California and Florida — the "sand states" — had the highest foreclosure rates, all at least double the national average of one filing per 162 homes.

In terms of raw numbers, California had the greatest number of properties subjected to foreclosure related filings — 174,785 — but that represented a 15 percent drop from a year ago.

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