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ForeclosureNov. 12 (Bloomberg) — U.S. foreclosure filings surpassed 300,000 for an eighth straight month as unemployment made it tougher for homeowners to pay their bills, RealtyTrac, Inc. said.

A total of 332,292 properties received a default or auction notice or were seized by banks in October, up 19 percent from a year earlier, Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac said today. One in every 385 households received a filing. The tally fell 3 percent from September, the third consecutive monthly decline.

“The foreclosure problem is still with us and will keep prices down,” Stephen Miller, chairman of the economics department at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, said in an interview. “The real issue is we don’t know what inventory banks are holding that they have yet to put on the market.”

Distressed real estate transactions accounted for 30 percent of all home sales in the third quarter as the median price fell 11 percent from a year earlier to $177,900, according to the National Association of Realtors. U.S. unemployment surged to a 26-year high of 10.2 percent in October as payrolls fell by 190,000 workers, the Labor Department said last week.

Housing will reach a bottom by March 2010, with lower- priced properties recovering value more quickly than expensive homes, First American CoreLogic said last month.

“The fundamental forces driving foreclosure activity in this housing downturn — high-risk mortgages, negative equity, and unemployment — continue to loom over any nascent recovery,” James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in the statement. “We continue to see foreclosure activity levels that are substantially higher than a year ago in most states.”

California ranked second, with filings for one in every 156 households. Florida was third, at one in 168, RealtyTrac said.  California led in total filings, with 85,420, up 50 percent from a year earlier. Default notices in the most populous state more than doubled and auction notices rose 73 percent, according to RealtyTrac.

 

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