Fewer Foreclosures, for Now

The number of foreclosure actions fell again in November. That's the fourth straight month that the total number of default filings, bank seizures, and foreclosure auctions fell.

There were 306,627 foreclosure actions in November, according to RealtyTrac. That's down from it's peak of over 360,000 in July. Since then the rate of foreclosure filings has been falling every month. Analysts credit government programs for the steady drop.

"Loan modifications and other foreclosure prevention efforts, along with the recently extended and expanded homebuyer tax credit, are keeping a lid on the most visible symptoms of the nation's ailing housing market - foreclosures and home value depreciation," says James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.
Of course, over 300,000 foreclosure filings in a single month is still tremendously bad. It's much worse, for example, than the rate of just over 200,000 foreclosure actions a month two years ago. That rate of foreclosure actions was enough, in the fall of 2007, to create chaos in the nation's bond markets, chaos that later spread to the rest of the financial system.

Also, the foreclosure rate could rise again. Nearly one in every four home loans is larger than the current value of the home - and one-in-ten loans is more the 25 percent larger, according to the analysts at First American CoreLogic. Add in a high rate of unemployment and the millions of short-term mortgages with balloon payments, and that could spell trouble in the near future.

Foreclosure Filings by month
November, 2009 306,627
October 332,292
September 343,638
August 358,471
July 360,149
June 336,173
May 321,480
April 342,038
March 341,180
February 290,453
January 274,399
December, 2008 303,410
November 259,085

(Information from RealtyTrac.)
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