Foreclosures surge in Wake County, state and across nation

Posted April 12, 2012

More U.S. homes are entering the foreclosure process, setting the stage for a surge in properties repossessed by lenders this year.

That trend includes North Carolina where nearly 3,700 properties are now at some stage in the foreclosure process, a jump from 2,992 in February and 2,541 in January.

The North Carolina number includes 822 in Wake County (up from 485 in February), the second highest total in the state behind Mecklenburg at 867. Guilford is third at 434 followed by Forsyth at 301.

In Durham 42 properties are being foreclosed, down from 44 in February. There were six in foreclosure in Orange County and 22 in Johnston.

(Click here for a map to find foreclosure activity by county.)

The number of homes that received first-time foreclosure notices rose 7 percent in March from the previous month, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

That marks the third consecutive monthly increase this year and reflects stepped-up efforts by banks to take action against homeowners who fail to keep up with mortgage payments.

"We're not out of the woods yet with foreclosures," said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac. "There are more batches of foreclosures coming through the pipeline."

Foreclosure activity, as measured by the number of homes receiving foreclosure-related notices, slowed sharply in the fall of 2010 when claims surfaced that some banks and mortgage servicers were processing foreclosures without verifying documents.

A $25 billion settlement reached in February between the biggest U.S. mortgage lenders and state officials has paved the way for banks to take action on unpaid mortgages, many of which have been in a procedural limbo for months or years. And it's those homes that could ultimately be foreclosed-upon and end up back on the market.

Foreclosures typically sell at a discount to other homes and can drag down the value of neighboring properties, so the prospect of more foreclosures means it could take longer for home prices in some areas to bounce back.

The U.S. housing market remains weak, even after the best winter for home sales in five years and steady improvement in the job market. Home prices are now back to 2002 levels, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller U.S. home price index.

Rather than a large wave of bank-owned homes crashing onto the market at once, it's likely the new crop of foreclosures will arrive in smaller waves throughout the year, Blomquist said.

Still, many of the homes entering the foreclosure process now are properties with loans that have gone unpaid for a long time, not instances of borrowers just starting to fall behind. That suggests the possibility that the number of homes at risk of foreclosure could begin to taper off once banks tackle the crop of homes with long-overdue mortgage payments.

"The faster we can move some of these old foreclosures through the pipeline, the faster the market can be in a place to recover," Blomquist said.

At the end of last year, some 1.5 million U.S. homes had mortgages that had gone unpaid at least 90 days, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data.

First-time foreclosure notices, such as warnings of initial default, are the first step in the process that can potentially result in a home being foreclosed upon. Homes can exit the process if the overdue payments are paid. Sometimes, a bank will allow that the home be sold for less than what the borrower owes on their mortgage, a so-called short sale.

All told, 101,939 U.S. homes received a first-time notice in March, the biggest monthly increase since October, RealtyTrac said.

Thirty-one states posted a monthly increase in homes with a first-time foreclosure notice. Nevada led the pack with an increase of 153 percent.

Even so, foreclosure activity overall — as measured by the number of properties receiving a notice of default, scheduled for auction or repossessed by lenders — sank in March to the lowest level since July 2007, the firm said.

In all, 198,853 homes received a foreclosure-related notice last month, down 4 percent from February, and down 17 percent from March last year.

Banks took back 55,075 homes in March, down 14 percent from the previous month, and down 25 percent from March 2011.

RealtyTrac expects banks will repossess close to 1 million homes this year. Last year, lenders took back 804,000 homes.

For the first three months of this year, foreclosure activity fell 2 percent compared to the last quarter of 2011 and was down 16 percent from the first quarter of last year, the firm said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • jjordan231179 Apr 13, 2012


    Who was in charge of our government in 2004? Congress, Senate, Presidency...Sorry your argument doesn't make any sense. If Republicans wanted to do something they could have, not to mention they helped start the problem (with the help of Clinton) in 1999 with the repeal of the Glass-Stegall act. By 2007 it was too late.
    Bill Brasky
    April 12, 2012 4:47 p.m.
    Report abuse

    Ron Paul tried to stop it. On July 16, 2002 he introduced legislation that would end the line of credit to GSE's (fannie, freddie). He stood on the House floor and told the whole country what was coming. Of course it got no support and he was a kook. I love listening to that July 16, 2002 speech now. Ron Paul told the truth and it happened. Now go vote for Obama or Romeny. Poor voters.

    RON PAUL 2012!

  • moredeadthanyou Apr 13, 2012

    ""Actually, I look at it in a much more basic way, it's the fault of the person who signed the mortgage papers to buy something they could not afford."

    This is only true to a very limited extent. Speculators were a major factor. Then increased costs for essential things like food and gas, coupled with mass layoffs and a poor nationwide economy overall have driven many middle-class and upper-middle class homeowners, who were quite able to meet their mortgages for years, into foreclosure. Read a few books such as "Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon" by Gretchen Morgenson. Then "All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis" by Bethany McClean. "Fool's Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe" by Gillian

  • Deep thoughts Apr 12, 2012

    Not surprising, $4.00 gas is probably a huge contributer.

  • jdupree Apr 12, 2012

    Obama economics are not working. News reports a surge of over 300,000 new jobless claims. We can't stand 4 more years of his incompetance!

  • beaupeep Apr 12, 2012

    Where that *determined* guy to tell us what good news this is?

  • Tarheel True Apr 12, 2012

    Umm, on one hand the information sources are telling us the economy is improving and the next day they are telling us foreclosures are up. Do you think your viewership and readership have Alzhimer's (Sic).

  • sunshine1040 Apr 12, 2012

    Is the employment rate going up or down in NC. If it is going up then more people should be able to make their mtg payments . i bought a house after carefully going over my budget to see if i could meet the payments insurance and taxes Knowing the taxes would go up if my house was moved in the city of Fayettville. It was moved into the city limits and still am making the payments including the taxes

  • Bill Brasky Apr 12, 2012

    "Yet another sign that the Obama stimulus just didn't work. He spent more money than any president before him, and it was just a wasted effort that added to the debt that you will be paying for, for the rest of your life."

    Actually, the HAMP program has helped about 1 million homes across the nation avoid foreclosure so far. This program is just a few years old but it will help millions more in the future.

  • dryjr Apr 12, 2012

    what does robosigning have to do with buying what you can afford?

  • Bill Brasky Apr 12, 2012


    Who was in charge of our government in 2004? Congress, Senate, Presidency...Sorry your argument doesn't make any sense. If Republicans wanted to do something they could have, not to mention they helped start the problem (with the help of Clinton) in 1999 with the repeal of the Glass-Stegall act. By 2007 it was too late.