US foreclosures at highest level since homes crisis began
March 11, 2009
Article from: Dow Jones Newswires
COMPLETED foreclosures in the US soared 67 per cent in February over January.
The rise takes foreclosure numbers to their highest since the start of the foreclosure crisis, according to ForeclosureS.com.
The surge to 121,756 comes just a month after the firm said foreclosures fell sharply in January, which led to speculation that the market might be seeing a turnaround. It also comes amid rapidly rising unemployment and continued tightness in credit markets, which make it tough for consumers to refinance existing loans.
February’s increase occurred despite the fact that several major banks, along with government mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, had imposed temporary halts on foreclosures.
Pre-foreclosure filings, which are an indicator of future completed foreclosures, jumped 27 per cent to 207,703, beating the previous monthly high from December by 9 per cent.
California, which is considered the epicentre of the housing crisis and has been one of the hardest hit markets, saw foreclosures soar 67 per cent from January. The total is still down 25 per cent from last September, however, when the state’s index peaked and state legislature adopted a law to slow foreclosures.
Florida’s foreclosures rose 42 per cent, while Arizona’s more than doubled.
ForeclosureS.com president Alexis McGee said if foreclosures continued unabated, “we could end up with another 1.2 million homes back in lenders’ hands by year end”.
Ms Mcgee said she was hopeful that Barack Obama’s plan to half the flood of foreclosures would take hold.
Late last month, government data showed existing-home sales tumbled to what was nearly a 12-year low in January, as prices took a double-digit drop. That tumble came after sales had posted a surprise gain in December.