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2010-04-15 17:29:07
Utah Foreclosures Jumped 75 Percent

Foreclosure sales

The number of Utah households facing foreclosure jumped by 75 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, much higher than the 16 percent increase nationally, a new report shows.

Nearly 10,800 households in the state, or one in every 88 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice, said RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that tracks filings. The firm said Utah has the fifth-highest rate of foreclosure filings of all states, behind only Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California. The Beehive State has been in the top tier for much of the past year.

Nationally, more than 900,000 households, or one in every 138 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice, which ranges from a homeowner being warned he or she is behind on their mortgage to a bank taking possession. Across the country, more homes were taken over by banks and scheduled for a foreclosure sale than in any quarter going back to at least January 2005, when RealtyTrac began reporting the data, the firm said. Experts say it's a sign that banks are starting to wade through the backlog of troubled home loans at a faster pace, according to the report.

Although real estate markets in other states have been suffering since 2005 and 2006, the market along Utah's most heavily populated area, the Wasatch Front, did not begin its downturn until summer 2007. The state's economic downturn began in late 2008, when year-over-year job gains turned to job losses. Foreclosures, many driven by falling home prices and job losses, began to accelerate in just the past year.

Nationally, foreclosure filings began to ease late last year as banks came under pressure from the Obama administration to modify home loans for troubled borrowers. In addition, some states enacted foreclosure moratoriums in hopes of giving homeowners behind in payments time to catch up. And in many cases, banks have had trouble coping with how to handle the glut of problem loans.

These factors have helped slow the pace of foreclosure filings, but now that trend appears to be reversing.

Homeowners continue to fall behind on payments because they've lost their jobs or seen their mortgage payments rise because of an interest-rate reset. Many are unable to refinance because they now owe more on their loans than their homes are worth.

The Obama administration's $75 billion foreclosure-prevention program has been able to help only a small fraction of troubled homeowners.

 
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