U.S. mortgage foreclosure filings dropped for a second straight month in February, and notched the smallest annual increase in four years as housing-rescue efforts contained activity. According to real estate data firm RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings — including mortgage default notices, house auctions and home repossessions by banks — were reported on 308,524 properties in February, down 2% from January, but still up 6% from the year-ago month.
* One in every 418 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in February.
* More than 300,000 properties received foreclosure filings for a 12th straight month.
* Real estate-owned properties nationwide were down 10% from the previous month, but up 6% from February 2009.
* Default notices were up 3% from January, but down 3% from February 2009.
* Scheduled foreclosure auctions were down 1% from January, but still up 16% from February 2009.
Nevada remained highest for the 38th straight month. One in every 102 Nevada housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month of February — more than four times the national average. Arizona and Florida documented nearly identical foreclosure rates, with one in every 163 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in February. Florida increased nearly 15% in February from January. The foreclosure rate in California ranked fourth with one in every 195 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. Michigan’s foreclosure rate ranked fifth highest with one in every 226 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in February. Other states with February foreclosure rates among the nation’s top 10 were Utah, Idaho, Illinois, Georgia and Maryland, the report showed.
Critics charge that foreclosure-prevention programs have failed to adequately address the trend’s current drivers, and are merely capping monthly foreclosure activity. Other criticisms include the shortfall of the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program to adequately address negative equity mortgages, leaving many unqualified for refinancing and preventing some from selling their homes.