Foreclosure filings up in Pa., N.J., other states

Posted: September 14, 2012

States that process home foreclosures through the courts, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, experienced an increase in filings in August over July's levels, RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosures nationwide, reported Thursday.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth dropped by 600,000 at the end of the second quarter, according to real estate data provider CoreLogic.

Nationally, the foreclosure-filing rate rose 1 percent from July to August but was down 15 percent from August 2011, RealtyTrac said.

Yet in judicial-foreclosure states, "deferred activity boiled over," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. "This was a continuation of a trend we've been seeing for several months now."

Twenty states registered year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity.

In Pennsylvania, new foreclosures increased 129 percent from August 2011, while in New Jersey they increased 101 percent. On the distressed-housing list of 50 states, they were ranked 27 and 32, respectively.

Filings in both states were below the national average of one in 681 houses, with Pennsylvania at one in 1,194 and New Jersey at one in 1,461.

Sales of houses repossessed by banks through foreclosure fell in most states. Pennsylvania had 43 percent fewer sales in August than in 2011.

Recently, many lenders have been trying to avoid the expensive and lengthy foreclosure process by making short sales, those in which banks accept prices less than what is owed on the mortgages.

RealtyTrac data show short sales in the first quarter at a three-year high, and 25 percent above levels for the same three months of 2011.

CoreLogic said 10.8 million, or 22.3 percent, of all residential properties with mortgages were underwater at the end of the second quarter, down from 11.4 million properties, or 23.7 percent, at the end of the first quarter.

Most of those borrowers are continuing to pay their mortgages, however - 84.9 percent, CoreLogic said.

"The level of negative equity continues to improve, with more than 1.3 million households regaining a positive-equity position since the beginning of the year," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said: "We currently expect home prices to continue to trend up in August."

"Were this trend to be sustained, we could see significant reductions in the number of borrowers in negative equity by next year," he said.

Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, or @alheavens at Twitter.

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