LOS ANGELES -- More U.S. homes entered the foreclosure process in October than in the previous month, with Florida, Pennsylvania and Indiana registering among the largest monthly increases, new data show.
Some 77,733 properties received an initial default notice last month, up 10 percent from September, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
The number of homes scheduled to be auctioned or repossessed by lenders also posted monthly increases.
All told, notices of default, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions - warnings that can eventually lead to a home being lost to foreclosure - hit a seven-month high in October.
The numbers are further evidence foreclosure activity is picking up.
The activity slowed a year ago after problems surfaced with the way many lenders were handling foreclosure documentation, namely shoddy mortgage paperwork comprising several shortcuts known collectively as robo-signing. Many of the nation's largest banks reacted by temporarily ceasing all foreclosures, re-filing previously filed foreclosure cases and revisiting pending cases to prevent errors.
But banks appear to be moving past those problems now and starting to tackle a swelling backlog of homes with mortgages that have gone unpaid - something that lenders are seeing more of as the economy struggles and unemployment remains high.
The rate that homeowners were 60 or more days late on their mortgage payment rose in the June-to-September period for the first time since the last three months of 2009, according to TransUnion.
The credit reporting agency said 5.88 percent of homeowners missed two or more payments, an early sign of possible foreclosure. That was up from 5.82 percent in the second quarter of 2011.
The number of U.S. homeowners underwater on their mortgage, or owe more than their homes are worth, represent another potential source of trouble for lenders.
As of June 30, some 22.5 percent of all U.S. homes had a mortgage that was under water, according to CoreLogic. That's 10.9 million properties. Another 2.4 million borrowers had less than 5 percent equity in their home, the firm said.
Industry experts say a housing market turnaround isn't likely to occur as long as there remains a glut of potential foreclosures hovering over the market, so October's increase in foreclosure activity means a potentially faster revival for housing.
"We all know that there is an underlying amount of properties that need to go into foreclosure and the sooner we clear that the sooner we can get housing to a normal level," said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio.
In some states, the number of homeowners put on notice by banks for missing payments far exceeded the national average for October.
Florida posted a 28 percent jump in October from September in homes receiving an initial default notice. Pennsylvania saw a 50 percent increase and Indiana registered a 61 percent gain, according to RealtyTrac.
In some cases, though, government intervention is slowing lenders down.
Take Nevada, where a law went into effect Oct. 1 requiring that foreclosure documents must be filed in the county where a property is located and a lender must provide a notarized affidavit detailing their legal right to proceed.
Saccacio said the law helped cause a 75 percent drop in initial default notices in Nevada last month versus September, bringing defaults to the lowest level since June 2006 at the peak of the housing boom.
"It's like a rain delay," Saccacio said. "We'll eventually see foreclosure processing go up."
Despite registering a 34 percent drop in foreclosure activity overall, Nevada still registered the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for October, with one in every 180 households receiving a foreclosure-related notice, RealtyTrac said.
In all, 230,678 U.S. homes received a foreclosure-related warning last month, up 7 percent from September, but down nearly 31 percent from October 2010.
Foreclosure auctions rose 8 percent from September, but climbed by more than 35 percent in several states, including Florida, Minnesota and Illinois.
Lenders took back 67,624 properties in October, up 4 percent from the previous month, but down 27 percent from a year earlier.
Bank repossessions increased by a far larger margin in several states. In Oregon they climbed 45 percent, while in New Jersey they posted a 48 percent jump. Indiana registered a 73 percent increase.
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Location: Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
Price: $8.95 million
Sq. Ft.: 21,320
Situated in affluent Cherry Hills Village, this home is absolutely enormous, spanning more than 20,000 square feet on its 2.5-acre plot. The home boasts mountain views, five fireplaces, a giant family room and a garage that holds a whopping nine cars. The neighborhood homeowner's association offers a clubhouse, pool, tennis courts and trash removal.
This shingle-style mansion commands 359 feet of beachy lakefront and three total acres of prime Orono real estate. The residence, which features tile floors and vaulted ceilings, also offers a carriage house for any guests you'd like to keep at arm's length on their lake house sojourn.
Behind its stately stone and stucco exterior, this home offers equally elegant interior character with decorative features, like exposed-beam ceilings, reclaimed wood floors and Victorian-style chandeliers. The home sits on a ridge in the Upper Canyon of Silverleaf that has uninterrupted panoramas of the city.
Location: Castle Rock, Colo.
Price: $2.55 million
Sq. Ft.: 8,607
This home fits its town's name: With its turret and a stone exterior the mansion resembles a castle. Officially labeled a "mountain contemporary," the home is located on a cul-de-sac and comes with a four-car garage.
But that's not all it comes with. Get the full details by viewing the listing.
The "Wyndham Estate" sits on Newport's posh Ocean Drive. Having undergone extensive renovations, the massive stone baronial mansion offers a ballroom, music room, elaborate landscaping and a rooftop deck with panoramic views of the ocean.
It's hard to argue with the listing description when it describes this behemoth as "extraordinarily opulent." Adjacent to the world-class Arizona Biltmore Golf Course, the estate has a sweeping paved motor court that leads up to a massive amalgamation of stone, wood and iron -- 17,799 square feet of it.
It's the sort of home you can actually get lost in. For avid cooks -- servants or otherwise -- there's a lot to work with: The mansion has four kitchens. In addition to myriad other amenities, the monster residence offers a home theater, pool, spa, sauna, steam room and elevator.
Location: Del Mar, Calif.
Price: $4.495 million
Sq. Ft.: 3,142
Said to offer the most square footage of all homes in the ritzy Beach Colony of Del Mar, this stunner is steps from the beach. Special features include a great room, multiple patios and a secluded outdoor area with a spa, sand room and game room.
This storied estate built in 1930 may need "major renovating," according to the listing, but its lush landscaping is sure to impress: Three whole acres of garden stretch across the premises, offering paths, grottoes, waterfalls, caves, and ponds draped with tropical trees and other foliage.
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Price: $2.45 million
Sq. Ft.: 13,198
One of many, many other foreclosed homes in Las Vegas, Ground Zero of the housing crisis, this home shows just how far the dollar really goes when it comes to Sin City dirt. For $2.45 million, you get seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, 13,198 square feet, a lighted tennis court, a come-hither pool and much more.
Live it up in this Spanish-style mansion built in 2002 -- you know, back when Kelly Clarkson and home prices were on the rise. The years have not been kind, however, and another millionaire’s misfortune could be your ticket to the good life.
Whoo, doggie! Everything’s bigger in Texas, including this over-the-top, Mediterranean-style villa. Unfortunately for the previous owner, this dream castle was built in 2009, right in the middle of the housing market’s freefall. The massive manor includes three bars, a game room, a lounge, a “poolside kitchen and fountain,” multiple fireplaces and two elevators. So much for fiscal austerity.
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