Foreclosure Filings Increase at Slowest Pace in Four Years By John Kell Wall Street Journal 03-11-2010

Foreclosure Filings Increase at Slowest Pace in Four Years By John Kell Wall Street Journal 03-11-2010

Foreclosure Filings Increase at Slowest Pace in Four Years
By John Kell
The Wall Street Journal
March 11, 2010

U.S. foreclosure filings rose 6% in February from a year earlier, the smallest increase in four years, according to RealtyTrac.

Severe winter weather temporarily slowed the processing of foreclosure records in some states.

RealtyTrac Chief Executive James J. Saccacio added the leveling of the foreclosure trend isn't necessarily evidence that fewer homeowners are in distress and at risk for foreclosure, but rather that foreclosure-prevention programs, legislation and other processing delays are capping monthly foreclosure activity.

The market researcher reported foreclosure filings on 308,524 U.S. properties in February, up 2% from January. Default notices, meanwhile, were up 3% from the prior month but down 3% from a year earlier. Scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions were both down from January, but grew from a year earlier.

Nevada posted the top foreclosure-filing rate for the 38th consecutive month despite a 30% year-over-year decrease. One in every 102 Nevada homes received a filing, more than four times the national rate. Even with a 9% decline in February from the prior month, Las Vegas was the worst metropolitan area, with one filing for every 90 homes.

Arizona and Florida followed with nearly identical foreclosure rates, with one in every 163 homes receiving a filing in both states. Despite a nearly 21% decrease in foreclosure activity from January, Arizona's rate was fractionally higher than Florida's.

California, meanwhile, posted a 15% year-over-year decline in February. Six California and Arizona metro areas were in the top 10 nationally, while Florida again had two.

In absolute terms, six states—California, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona and Texas—accounted for 61% of the national total in February. But the total of foreclosure filings in those states fell 5% from January and 15% from a year earlier.

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