Foreclosure rates up big in December

Jan 17, 2007

By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Americans continue having difficulties paying their mortgage obligations, with December foreclosure rates above the 100,000 mark for the fifth straight month.

The number of homeowners entering into some stage of the foreclosure process in December was 109,652, down 9 percent from November but up 35 percent from December 2005, according to RealtyTrac.

Adjustable-rate mortgages, especially subprime ARMs, continue to drive the spike in foreclosures: many of those loans are due to reset in 2007, and many of the loans written in 2006 are performing less well than in previous years.

"The combination of slower home sales and rising interest rates on ARMs continues to drive foreclosures at significantly higher numbers than a year ago," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

Other circumstances are involved. One is that the housing market turned, removing one avenue of escape for some homeowners facing foreclosure. "People would be reselling their homes if they got into trouble," says Rick Sharga, VP of marketing for RealtyTrac.

When they can't sell at or above what they owe, they may go into delinquency instead.

Another contributor is that some lenders tried to maintain business in a slower market. To do that, some relaxed their underwriting standards, approving more marginal borrowers for loans.

Interest rates were also higher for the year, putting additional strain on borrowers. Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, estimates that $500 billion to $800 billion in loans outstanding went to borrowers who may face difficulties.

"Some of that," Duncan says, "would go into foreclosure."

A sustained increase in the number of foreclosures could accentuate the decline in the housing market, according to Duncan. "It could take longer to work the inventory down," he says.

Overall, however, Duncan is optimistic that the pain will be minimal. He expects the economy to keep adding jobs through the rest of the year and for mortgage rates to vary little from around 6.2 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage.

Colorado recorded the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, one for every 376 households. In sheer numbers, Texas led the nation with more than 14,000 households entering into some stage of foreclosure.

December 2006 foreclosures
State Total filings Rate (One for
every no. of
households)
12-month
increase (%)
United States 109,652 1,055 34.89
Vermont 1 294,382 -83.33
Maine 6 108,649 0.00
District of Columbia 4 68,711 -66.67
New Hampshire 12 45,585 71.43
North Dakota 14 20,691 133.33
South Dakota 20 16,160 81.82
Maryland 195 10,987 -47.44
Delaware 32 10,721 113.33
Hawaii 43 10,710 -30.65
Rhode Island* 51 8,624 2450.00
Virginia 369 7,822 -0.54
West Virginia 110 7,678 -6.78
Mississippi 169 7,508 131.51
Wyoming 31 7,221 106.67
Idaho 80 6,573 -63.13
Oregon 268 5,432 -47.45
South Carolina 348 5,036 -37.30
Louisiana 395 4,768 287.25
Montana 87 4,737 14.47
Wisconsin 589 3,910 40.57
Kentucky 517 3,386 39.73
Kansas 355 3,177 24.56
Alabama 652 3,011 715.00
Minnesota 717 2,884 205.11
Nebraska 256 2,807 12.78
North Carolina 1,260 2,794 -15.94
Iowa 473 2,606 42.90
Alaska 79 2,597 -20.20
New Mexico 314 2,486 -53.41
Oklahoma 756 1,977 -53.68
Washington 1,261 1,897 12.79
New York 4,690 1,637 4.22
Arkansas 767 1,529 -20.19
Pennsylvania 3,704 1,417 12.11
Connecticut 1,074 1,290 6.13
Missouri 1,975 1,234 96.91
Utah 722 1,065 -17.11
California 12,623 968 64.49
Florida 8,321 878 3.37
Arizona 2,525 867 7.54
Tennessee 2,852 860 43.82
New Jersey 3,865 856 44.76
Indiana 3,436 735 1.45
Illinois 6,903 708 65.30
Ohio 7,349 651 8.60
Michigan 6,812 620 52.67
Texas 14,195 567 11.31
Mass.* 4,843 541 937.04
Georgia 6,455 480 114.67
Nevada 2,213 392 96.89
Colorado 4,864 376 284.81

Source: RealtyTrac
*Actual increases may not be as high due to expanded data coverage in this state.

 


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