Money Matters - Simplified

US foreclosures decline 3% in May; surpass 300000 for 15th straight month

Foreclosure could increase in the nation if there is no improvement in the employment scenario, and mortgage program fails to rescue the troubled households.

After the two most tumultuous years since the 1930s, foreclosure crisis finally seems to be loosening its grip on the housing market. In what can be termed as some relief for the Americans, foreclosure filing in May decreased 3 percent, compared to the houses foreclosed in the previous month.

According to the U.S. Foreclosure Market Report released by California-based RealtyTrac, a total of 322,920 houses received filing in the May, meaning that one in every 400 houses received an auction notice.

In April, total of 333,837 households received auction notice.

Though the filings have exceeded 300,000 for the 15th straight month, the foreclosure rate has receded over the past few months.

“The numbers in May continued and confirmed the trends we noticed in April: overall foreclosure activity leveling off while lenders work through the backlog of distressed properties that have built up over the past 20 months,” stated James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure epicenter
Among the various states that witnessed high foreclosure activity, Nevada topped the list for the 41th month in a row.

In the state, one in every 79 houses received a foreclosure filing. But the total number of Nevada residents receiving auction notice declined 12 percent compared to April.

The other state that continued to document high foreclose was Arizona, where one in every 169 households failed on their mortgages.

Among the cities, with a population of 200,000 or more, Las Vegas again reported the highest foreclosure rate but the activity is 18 percent lower compared to the year earlier period.

Arizona was followed by Florida, where one in every 174 houses received a notice. In California, one in every 186 properties were auctioned.

Other in the top 10 states, witnessing high foreclosure activity, were Michigan, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Utah and Maryland.

Analyzing foreclosures in metros
Among the cities, with a population of 200,000 or more, Las Vegas again reported the highest foreclosure rate but the activity is 18 percent lower compared to the year earlier period.

Las Vegas was followed by Merced, Calif. (No. 2) and Modesto, Calif. (No.3). Most of the metros in California were among the cities with high foreclosure activity.

The cities that rounded out the 10 highest foreclosure rates were Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., Stockton, Calif., Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., Bakersfield, Calif., Reno-Sparks, Nev., and Phoenix.

Vallejo-Fairfield was the only city that saw one percent increase in foreclosure rate.

Foreclosures to continue for a while
Though majority of the states and cities in the nation have seen an improvement in the housing market, do not expect the foreclosure statistics to plummet anytime soon.

In fact, Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. told Associated Press, “It's not anything like a recovery yet."

Foreclosure could increase in the nation if there is no improvement in the employment scenario, and mortgage program fails to rescue the troubled households.

Though the unemployment rate for May fell to 9.7 percent compared to 9.9 percent in April, the decrease is largely due to 411,000 temporary census jobs created. The jobless rate could rise again.

The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), started by the Obama administration, aimed at modifying loans of 3 to 4 million, has so far achieved 50 percent success.

By the end of April, the number of households, who had received help were 230,000, according to Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The program annulled 277,640 trial modifications, and 3744 permanent modifications due to incomplete paper work, and negative equity.