Published on Friday, June 06, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — The foreclosure hammer is hitting ever harder. People lost their homes at the highest rate on record in the first three months of the year, and late payments soared to a new high, too — an alarming sign that the housing crisis and its damage to the national economy may only get worse.
Dumping more empty homes on an already glutted market also is likely to put a further drag on home prices — extending a vicious cycle.
Slumping home values are being blamed in large part for the rising tide of foreclosures. Troubled borrowers are left owing more to the bank than their homes are worth. They can’t sell without taking a huge financial hit, so they just walk away.
In fact, Americans’ equity in their homes — usually their single biggest asset — now has dropped to the lowest level on record in figures going back to the end of World War II. Homeowners’ portion of equity fell to 46.2 percent, which means the amount of debt tied up in their homes exceeds the equity they have built up....
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