MIAMI – The number of homeowners caught in the wave of foreclosures in October grew 25 percent nationally over the same month in 2007, data released Thursday showed.
More than 279,500 U.S. homes received at least one foreclosure-related notice in October, an increase of 5 percent over September, according to RealtyTrac Inc. One in every 452 housing units received a foreclosure filing, such as a default notice, auction sale notice or bank repossession.
More than 84,000 properties were repossessed in October, RealtyTrac said.
A nasty brew of strict lending standards, falling home values and a tough economy is filtering through the housing market. By the end of the year, the company expects more than a million bank-owned properties to have piled up on the market, representing around a third of all properties for sale in the U.S.
The collateral damage in the financial markets forced the government to pass a $700 billion financial rescue package last month. The plan was initially to buy bad assets from banks, but Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Wednesday that the rescue package won't purchase those troubled assets.
That plan would have taken too much time, he said, so instead the Treasury will rely on buying stakes in banks and encouraging them to resume more normal lending.
Also Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston said the government may let more borrowers qualify for a $300 billion program designed to let troubled homeowners swap risky loans for more affordable ones. The program was launched Oct. 1, but there are concerns that lenders won't participate because they have to voluntarily reduce the value of a loan and take a loss.
In Nevada, one in every 74 homes received a foreclosure filing last month. Arizona saw one in every 149 housing units receive a foreclosure filing, and in Florida it was one in every 157 homes.
However, RealtyTrac noted that, while California had the highest total number of foreclosures in October, the rate in that state was down 18 percent from the previous month.
James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said new laws requiring delays in the foreclosure process have reduced the volume of foreclosure filings in several states. In California, lenders are now required to contact borrowers at least 30 days before filing a default notice. A similar law in North Carolina gives borrowers an extra 45 days.
"While the intention behind this legislation — to prevent more foreclosures — is admirable, without a more integrated approach that includes significant loan modifications, the net effect may be merely delaying inevitable foreclosures," Saccacio said. "And in the meantime, the apparent slowing of foreclosure activity understates the severity of the foreclosure problem in these states."
Among cities, Las Vegas had the highest October foreclosure rate among the 230 metro areas tracked in the report, with one in every 62 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing.
Four Florida metro areas ranked in top 10 — Cape Coral-Fort Myers was second, Miami third, Fort Lauderdale eighth and Orlando 10th. California also had four metro areas in the top 10: Stockton fourth, Merced fifth, Riverside-San Bernardino seventh and Modesto ninth.
The remaining member of the top 10 was Phoenix, which came in sixth.