Business

N.C. home foreclosure rates decline 13% in November

Posted December 11, 2008 6:31 a.m. EST
Updated December 11, 2008 7:57 a.m. EST

— Home foreclosures in November across North Carolina fell 13 percent from October and were down nearly 30 percent from a year ago, foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac reported Thursday.

Nationally, the number of U.S. homes involved in some stage of the foreclosure process fell in October to the lowest level since June, partly due to new state laws that have lengthened the legal process for repossession and sale, RealtyTrac noted.

North Carolina’s legislation to help homeowners has received much praise nationally, and the number of properties in the state being foreclosed decreased to 2,793 last month, down from more than 3,000 in October.

That’s one per every 1,443 homes, according to RealtyTrac statistics. North Carolina, the 10th-ranked state in terms of population, ranked 31st in the foreclosure rankings.

Creditors took over 1,527 properties. Another 537 owners were notified that their properties were involved in repossession, and a further 729 received notices of default. The number of default notices declined by more than 400 from October.

However, the decline from a year ago in North Carolina and the drop nationally is likely to be a brief respite at best, RealtyTrac warned.

"We're going to have a pretty significant spike in January," said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac's vice president for marketing. Plus, as job losses mount, "Increases in foreclosure activity follow that pretty directly."

Nationwide, more than 259,000 homes received at least one foreclosure-related notice in November, down 7 percent from October, but 28 percent higher than a year ago, RealtyTrac said.

The report comes as Democrats, including President-elect Barack Obama, insist that the government must use some of the bailout funds to halt rising foreclosures.

Last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that a record one in 10 American homeowners with a mortgage was either at least one month behind on payments or in foreclosure at the end of September.

RealtyTrac monitors default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. Lenders repossessed more than 78,000 properties last month, said the Irvine, Calif.-based company.

The worst recession in decades, falling home values and stricter lending standards have ensnared millions of U.S. households. The Federal Reserve predicts that new foreclosures this year will reach about 2.25 million, more than double pre-crisis levels.

In RealtyTrac's report, Nevada, Florida and Arizona had the nation's highest foreclosure rates. In Nevada, one in every 76 homes received a foreclosure filing last month. Florida saw one in every 173 properties receive a foreclosure filing, and in Arizona, it was one in every 198 homes. Rounding out the top 10 were California, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado, Utah and Idaho.

Among metro areas, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area in Florida was first, with one in every 59 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. It was followed by Las Vegas, and the California cities of Merced, Modesto and Stockton.