Entries in Foreclosures (48)


US Foreclosure Filings Down 3% in July

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of U.S. households that received a foreclosure notice dropped in July and was down from a year ago, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.

The foreclosure tracking firm said on Thursday that 191,925 properties were hit with foreclosure filings last month, marking a 3 percent drop from June and a 10 percent decrease from July 2011.

While initial foreclosure activity was up on an annual basis for the third straight month in July, RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist says the overall trend has been positive.

"For the past 22 months there has been a decrease in foreclosure activity nationwide," he says.

The exceptions are Arizona, California and Florida, which, Blomquist notes, are still reporting higher than normal foreclosures.  Yet, he says the future for the housing market looks brighter.

"We're headed in the right direction.  We are past the worst of this foreclosure crisis and on the downslope so that's good news," Blomquist says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Buys 650 Foreclosures: How Much Did He Pay?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MACOMB COUNTY, Mich.) -- Until a year ago, Bill McMachen, 71, had never bought or sold a foreclosed home. Then in 2011 he bought one for $12,000 and flipped it a week later for $18,000. “That went pretty good,” he says. “So I said to my wife, ‘I think I’ll buy them all.’”

He was referring to all 650 tax foreclosed properties in Macomb County, Michigan. McMachen bought them in one fell swoop for $4.8 million at a July 31st auction. Afterward, he says, he told his wife, “Phew, I might be in over my head.”

He’d seen the auction advertised, and had asked county officials if it was possible for him to buy the entire lot, which included 403 homes, 120 residential lots, 14 condos, 9 commercial buildings and some undeveloped land. They told him nobody had ever done that before, but that there wasn’t any reason he couldn’t. He snapped them up for no more than their combined back taxes.

The real estate newbie says he made his fortune selling yachts for 40 years. After the recession hit, he says, the yacht business suffered, and he started getting interested in real estate.

What’s he going to do with all those houses? Resell them to investors, he says, most of whom he expects will rent them out to tenants.

How’s McMachen going to manage all these properties in the meantime? There won’t be a ‘meantime,’ he says: He’s selling them too fast: “Last week I sold 181. This week, it’ll be 150. In the third week I’ll sell the balance. More people want homes than I have homes to sell.”

He says he’ll happily sell to someone who wants to occupy a home himself. “If somebody tells me the house was his grandpa’s, or that there’s some sentimental connection, I’ll consider that.”

Anybody who buys from him, he says, is going to get a better deal than they would have from the county. Whereas the county, he says, doesn’t give potential buyers a chance to inspect foreclosure in advance, he’ll be happy to. “They can look around and see what’s there. Maybe there’s a furnace missing. Maybe it needs $15,000 worth of repairs. We’ll adjust the price.”

McMachen says his wife has asked him what he intends to do next. “I don’t know yet,” he says. “I enjoy wheeling and dealing.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tax Lien Sales: The 'Other' Foreclosure Problem Plaguing Homeowners

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Homeowners with an outstanding water bill or high property taxes are increasingly discovering why some are more than eager to sell their home to property-hungry investors.

Called the "other" foreclosure crisis, property tax lien sales are enabled by state and local laws that allow the sale of a property through a tax lien foreclosure process if the owner falls behind in property taxes or other bills, like a water bill or even a dental bill.

If homeowners are behind for just a few hundred dollars, their homes can be sold to investors at a tax lien sale for simply the back taxes owed on the property.  If the owner of a $200,000 house fails to buy back the property, for example, it could be sold for as little as $1,200, and then resold for a windfall by the investor.

Annual tax lien sales total about $15 billion in the U.S. and are on the rise because of the weak job market, depressed home values, and an increase in mortgage foreclosures, according to a report released this week by the National Consumer Law Center.

John Rao, staff attorney with the law center and author of the report, "The Other Foreclosure Crisis: Property Tax Lien Sales," said the elderly are the most vulnerable to these types of sales.

"They have owned the home for long time and there's no mortgage company there that will make sure it won't be sold in a tax sale," Rao said.

Rao's main advice about people who are behind in their bills, like property taxes, is to understand the tax lien processes in your state and to seek legal advice, whether paid or pro bono.

"There's a point where you really can lose your house," Rao said.  "If you can afford [legal help], you should do it."

To insure yourself against a tax lien sale, you can ask your mortgager to set up an escrow account for taxes and insurance, so that you will have a monthly payment over time instead of a large tax bill.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Foreclosure Crisis Remains Despite Housing Market Gains

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In what may be the closest thing yet to an official pronouncement that the housing market has finally started to get better, economists are increasingly saying that despite a slow down in the foreclosure recovery, the market is improving.

David Blitzer, chief economist of Standard and Poor’s, the company that releases the influential Case-Shiller report, says that in most markets prices are rising.  

The Wall Street Journal reports, “The housing market has turned -- at last.”

And a survey by Wells Fargo Securities economists finds that even as the recovery slows down, “the budding recovery in the housing market appears to be gradually gaining momentum.”

But the foreclosure crisis is far from over.

Foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac says foreclosure filings fell 11 percent in the first half of this year, but banks are increasingly putting troubled property owners on notice for possible action.  That means there could be a rise in auction sales and bank repossessions by early next year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Foreclosures Up 9 Percent in May, RealtyTrac Report Says

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) -- U.S. foreclosure activity increased nine percent in May compared with the month before, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac says nearly 206,000 U.S. properties were in default or foreclosure, under bank repossession, or scheduled for auction in May -- a nine-percent increase from April, but still down four percent from May 2011. The report also shows that more than 109,000 properties had started the foreclosure process in May 2012 -- a 12-percent increase from the month before and 16 percent from a year ago.

RealtyTrac vice president Darren Bloomquist said many of these foreclosure starts will become bank-approved short sales and are good for the market.  Short sales are properties on which the foreclosure process has started, but the homeowner is able to sell the property for less than is owed on the mortgage before the process is complete.

"The short sales usually sell at a higher price point.  And they also represent properties that transfer to a new homeowner right away. Whereas with a bank repossession, you usually end up with a vacant property sitting for several months and contributing to often-declines in neighborhood values," Bloomquist told ABC News Radio.

But Bloomquist said though home sales are heading in an upward direction with buyers willing to purchase foreclosed properties, last month's foreclosure spike may be a sign that the nation is not out of the woods yet regarding its foreclosure problem.

"Foreclosures in general have been trending downward over the last year and a half, and I think, in part, that's because slowly we are working our way through the foreclosure problem," Bloomquist said. "But [sic] those decreases have been exaggerated because of delays in processing foreclosures."

Additional findings included in the RealtyTrac's U.S. Foreclosure Market Report:

  • Foreclosure activity rose back up above the 200,000 level in May after two consecutive months below 200,000.
  • Foreclosure starts nationwide increased on an annual basis after 27 consecutive months of year-over-year declines.
  • Judicial states combined posted a 26 percent year-over-year increase in overall foreclosure activity while non-judicial states combined posted a 20 percent year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity.
  • Foreclosure starts increased on a year-over-year basis in 17 of the 26 judicial states and in 16 of the 24 non-judicial states.
  • Georgia leapfrogged past Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada to post the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate in May, the first time since February 2006 that Georgia’s foreclosure rate has ranked highest among the states.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


26% of US Homes Sold in First Quarter Were in Foreclosure

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Foreclosures sales are still dominating the U.S. housing market.  According to RealtyTrac, they accounted for 26 percent of all home sales nationwide in the first quarter of 2012.

Daren Blomquist with RealtyTrac says the figure is indicative of the country's sluggish economic growth.

"The housing market is going to continue to be weighed-down by these foreclosure sales, and in turn when that housing market is weighed-down that is going to weigh-down the overall economy," he explains.

So when can Americans expect relief?

"We're not going to be completely out of the woods until we get down to a point where foreclosure sales only represent about 5 percent of all sales rather than what we're seeing now is foreclosures are representing 26 percent of all sales," Blomquist says.

Noting that there's still a 17-month supply of foreclosures on the market, he says,"It's going to be at least another year and a half to two years before foreclosures stop dominating the housing market."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Foreclosure Filings Down to Lowest Level Since 2007

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Is the foreclosure crisis in the U.S. nearing its end?  New numbers out Thursday by RealtyTrac show that foreclosure activity is down to a near five-year low across the country.

"In April 2012, there were less than 189,000 properties with foreclosure filings during the month.  That was a 57-month low.  That's the lowest level we've seen since July 2007," says Daren Blomquist with RealtyTrac.

Blomquist credits the decrease partly to banks being more willing to work with struggling homeowners.

"More properties that would have become foreclosures otherwise are actually becoming short sales.  The lenders are becoming much more aggressive in agreeing to short sales," he explains.

This has likely helped lead to a drop in the number of filings in the West.  Foreclosure activity is down in Arizona, California and Nevada -- states that were hard hit by the foreclosure crisis -- according to RealtyTrac.

But, Blomquist cautions homeowners are not out of the woods yet.

"It's not that foreclosures have completely gone away by any means, but at least they're heading in the right direction and finally have kind of gotten through this very big batch of bad loans that triggered the foreclosure crisis in the first place," he says.

And while the outlook has improved on the West coast, the picture is grimmer towards the East.  Filings are up year over year in Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, RealtyTrac reports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Foreclosure Activity Rose in Major US Cities During First Quarter

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) -- Foreclosure activity rose during the first quarter of this year in more than half of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, RealtyTrac reported on Thursday.

"Some of those included Pittsburgh, which was up 49 percent from the previous quarter," RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist elaborated.  "Indianapolis was up 37 percent.  Philadelphia up 30 percent, even New York City, which in the past, has largely escaped the foreclosure crisis of the past five years, was up 24 percent from the previous quarter."

The increases were due to delayed foreclosures that took a long time to process, the foreclosure tracking firm said.  And the situation may get worse before it improves.

"There's going to be some more bumps in the road because of these delayed foreclosures.  As those come on to the market, at least in those markets where it's happening, it's going to continue to weigh down home prices," Blomquist explained.

But it's not all bad news for the housing market.

"Overall, nationally, foreclosure activity was down in the first quarter to the lowest levels since the fourth quarter of 2007," Blomquist said.

As more foreclosures hit the market, prospective homeowners will be at an advantage.

"The good news for buyers this year, is it's still going to be a buyer's market.  There's going to be more foreclosures coming on, coming on the market, which means there's going to be opportunities for these buyers to get a good deal," he said.

Sellers will also see benefits down the line.

"The good news for sellers is that the quicker these markets can absorb the foreclosure inventory, those sellers then will be in a position where they don't have to compete as much with foreclosures if they go to sell their home," Blomquist added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Foreclosure Filings Hit Five-Year Low

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) -- Foreclosure filings have dropped to their lowest level in nearly five years, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.

The foreclosure tracking firm says for the first quarter of 2012, the number of U.S. households that received a foreclosure notice fell to 572,928 -- a 2 percent decline from the previous quarter and a 16 percent drop from the same time period last year. 

The figure is the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2007, when 527,740 properties were hit with foreclosure filings.

"What's driving those lower numbers is decreases in activity in some of the hardest-hit states.  California, Arizona and Nevada are the main ones that are driving that trend," RealtyTrac's Daren Blomquist explains.

Last month alone, RealtyTrac says 198,853 homes received a foreclosure notice -- the lowest monthly total since July 2007.  That figure was also down 4 percent from February and down 17 percent from March 2011.

So is the foreclosure crisis in the U.S. over?

"No, we're definitely not out of the woods," responds Blomquist.  "It's not over, but I do think there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  I mean we're past the peak in this foreclosure cycle.  The worst of this was 2009 and 2010."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NY Foreclosure Firm Agrees to $4M Settlement

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New York law firm at the center of a foreclosure controversy has agreed to a settlement with state prosecutors.

Steven J. Baum PC drew widespread criticism after the New York Times published photos of a firm Halloween party during which employees decorated the office with tents, tarps and cardboard signs while dressed as homeless people.

The Baum Firm, based in suburban Buffalo, was the largest foreclosure defense firm in New York.  It handled cases for all the major banks, but Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused the firm of using deceptive practices, including so-called robo-signing.

“The Baum Firm cut corners in order to maximize the number of its foreclosure filings and its profits,” Schneiderman said.  

The firm admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $4 million in what the Attorney General’s office said was the largest foreclosure law firm settlement in the nation.

“For too long foreclosure law firms like Steven J. Baum PC have wreaked havoc on homeowners,” said Elizabeth Lynch of MFY Legal Services, which represents homeowners who may have been improperly foreclosed upon.  

Investigators said the Baum Firm routinely brought foreclosure cases without verifying the bank it represented actually owned the mortgage.  Prosecutors described “an assembly-line” in which attorneys signed documents prepared by a processing firm without reviewing their contents.   

Steven J. Baum PC shut down in November after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced the firm was no longer eligible to handle foreclosures.  Baum himself and managing partner Brian Kumiega must pay the $4 million in settlement money themselves.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio