N.C. foreclosure notices dip 7.3% in January

Posted February 12, 2009

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— North Carolina’s residential real estate market apparently is improving, at least temporarily.

The number of home foreclosure notices in January declined 7.3 percent from December's volume and was 29.3 percent lower than in January 2008, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac. The California-based company tracks foreclosure data across the United States.

Nationally, the number of Americans on the verge of losing their homes also fell from December to  January, but was still up from the same month a year ago. The numbers would have been higher if not for efforts to forestall the foreclosure process.

In North Carolina, 2,386 properties received at least one foreclosure-related notice. North Carolina, which ranks 10th nationally in population, ranks 33rd in foreclosures, RealtyTrac reported.

In the U.S., the number of homes involved in foreclosure in January fell 10 percent from December. However, the total is 10 percent higher than a year earlier.

Contributing to the monthly drop was a decision by government-controlled mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosure sales during the winter holidays. Plus, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist brokered a deal in which lenders in that state agreed to a 45-day halt to new foreclosure petitions.

But those efforts may not have much of an impact in the long run.

"If you don't do anything to get to the core problem, all you're doing is extending the housing downturn," said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac's vice president for marketing. "It's only a good idea if there's a corresponding program that dramatically restructures hundreds of thousands of loans."

Meanwhile, a federal regulator on Wednesday urged more than 800 thrift institutions to suspend all foreclosures while President Barack Obama's top economic officials develop plans to keep borrowers in their homes.

The Obama administration plans to spend $50 billion to combat foreclosures of owner-occupied, middle-class homes, but has not developed or is not divulging few details. An announcement of the administration's housing plans is expected in the coming weeks.

Testifying before House lawmakers on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the government would provide incentives to "try to induce economically sensible restructuring of mortgages," but offered no specifics.

More than 2 million American homeowners faced foreclosure proceedings last year, and that number could soar as high as 10 million in the coming years, depending on the severity of the recession, according to a report last month by Credit Suisse.

The RealtyTrac report said lenders repossessed nearly 67,000 properties in January as the worst recession in decades, falling home values and stricter lending standards continue to sap the U.S. real estate market. That was up from more than 45,000 repossessed properties in January 2008, but down from 79,000 in December.

Geithner and Shaun Donovan, the new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, met with officials from housing and other nonprofit groups, top bank executives and industry lobbyists Wednesday to hear proposals for how the new programs to fight foreclosures should be structured.

After the meeting, John Taylor, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a consumer group in Washington, said he was optimistic the new administration would agree to use government dollars to buy up mortgages and remove them from complex mortgage-linked securities and restructure them at more affordable levels.

He said support from government and industry officials for that idea was a "giant step forward" compared with opposition to such an approach by the Bush administration.

The Obama administration is also expected to back a push in Congress – opposed by the mortgage industry – to let bankruptcy judges alter the terms of primary home loans. Earlier this week, Obama said it "makes no sense" that judges are not allowed to do so. The mortgage industry argues that this prohibition allows lenders to charge lower rates.

In the RealtyTrac report, Nevada, California, Arizona and Florida had the nation's top foreclosure rates. In Nevada, one in every 76 homes received a foreclosure, while the number was one of every 173 in California. At No. 5, Oregon, formerly a bastion of housing stability, made its first appearance close to the top of the list of foreclosure hot spots.

Rounding out the top 10 were Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Idaho and Ohio. Among metro areas, Merced, Calif., was first, with one in every 59 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. It was followed by Las Vegas and the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area in Florida.


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  • whatelseisnew Feb 12, 2009

    the next round of foreclosures is coming just as soon as the unemployment benefits run out. The tax credit is for homebuyers is only for first time buyers. It is just a loan that has to be paid back. to call this mass of "fill in the blank" a stimulus is simply being blind. The payment due coming down the road is going to be massive and it is going to be very painful. I guess they wanted to out-do Carter.

  • affirmativediversity Feb 12, 2009

    aspenstreet1717 posted, "3 pieces of improved economic news today. In addition to this retail sales have improved and jobless claims have as well."


    so does that mean we don't need President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's SPENDING SPREE???

    does it mean "we" actually have "time" to think this PORK boondogle through?

    Or will the sky start falling again tomorrow if Obama doesn't get his way?

    By the way, I'm having a real problem with being rushed with this when that Tax Cheat Geithner doesn't have a clue what to do with the $350 Billion TARP part 2...which was appropriated IN A RUSH after President Obama DEMANDED IT NOW!!!

    Obama is looking more and more like a kid who wants to collect up all the toys on the playground and put them in his basket so he can stomp his feet and yell at everyone saying "they're mine, not yours" would be funny if it wasn't so gosh darned dangerous!

  • aspenstreet1717 Feb 12, 2009

    3 pieces of improved economic news today. In addition to this retail sales have improved and jobless claims have as well.

  • affirmativediversity Feb 12, 2009

    redapace posted, "Bad news for the new America Haters Club that wants to see the US fall apart so they can blame Obama & the people that voted for him."


    What has Obama done that he should receive EITHER credit or derision? Besides nominate a tax cheat that doesn't have a clue for Treasury Secretary, another tax cheat for HHS Secretary, oh yeah, one more tax cheat for Labor Secretary AND lets not forget all those terrorist and pedophile symphathizers at the Dept of Justice.

    Yeah, your right, one headline that says "Gosh it might not be that bad this very second" after 3 weeks of incessent gloom in doom really puts people like me in my place!

    Duh, use your brains. Being President of the United States isn't a "campaign" nor is it a "Popularity" contest!

  • homebrewer Feb 12, 2009

    Pfft. Thats hardly an indication that the real estate market is improving... There are still a ton of houses for sale in every neighborhood in Raleigh. Ok I guess it is a needle in a haystack indication that it is improving.

  • Caveman93 Feb 12, 2009

    The calm before the storm people. Hey! Anyone know when the pick-a-pay Wachovia Loans are scheduled to reset? Oh, that's next month isn't it? Good luck people!

  • Bendal1 Feb 12, 2009

    It's hardly an indicator of improvement in the housing situation if Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac suspended foreclosures during the winter. What's probably taking place is the foreclosure rate would remain steady and show no decline if you factor out the FM/FM suspension of foreclosures.

    But hey, write those headlines in as optimistic as you can. Maybe someone will start believing them.

  • redapace Feb 12, 2009

    Bad news for the new America Haters Club that wants to see the US fall apart so they can blame Obama & the people that voted for him.

  • Quagmire Feb 12, 2009

    People with money are waiting for the absolute bottom before they begin to buy up the houses that have been sitting. That point is very near.

    Especially since the stimulous provides a $15,000 tax rebate for homebuyers.

  • veyor Feb 12, 2009

    People with money are waiting for the absolute bottom before they begin to buy up the houses that have been sitting. That point is very near.