Real estate research firm RealtyTrac says foreclosures eased a tiny amount in October. The company reported that data for last month shows foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- were reported on 332,172 properties, a 4% decrease from the previous month and about the same as were reported in October 2009.
"October marks the 20th consecutive month where over 300,000 U.S. homeowners received a foreclosure notice," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer at RealtyTrac. "The numbers probably would have been higher except for the fallout from the recent 'robo-signing' controversy -- which is the most likely reason for the 9% monthly drop in REOs we saw from September to October and which may result in further decreases in November."
Foreclosure auctions were scheduled for the first time on 138,361 U.S. properties in October. A total of 100,575 properties received default notices and lenders foreclosed on an additional 93,236.
"Nevada continued to document the nation's highest state foreclosure rate in October, with one in every 79 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during the month -- nearly five times the national average", RealtyTrac reported. Florida, Arizona, California, Michigan, Utah, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois and Colorado also had extremely high rates.
Despite the slight dip in October foreclosures, the housing market remains in dire straits, with an extremely high level of underwater mortgages, low housing starts and depressed sales. Most of these problems have gotten worse since the federal government abandoned its home-buyer tax credit in April.
The mortgage market continues to be plagued by the fail-out from unemployment and the death spiral in home prices. The latter has cause a "buyer's strike" as potential shoppers worry that house values have not bottomed. Banks are reluctant to offer mortgages to all but the most credit worthy because they fear future defaults.
The RealtyTrac data could have been anticipated.