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Foreclosure filings fell 5 percent in the first half of the year but still exceed the first six months of 2009 by 8 percent, according to figures released today by RealtyTrac. One in 78 home0wners received a foreclosure notice in the first half.

Foreclosure Picture Improves in First Half

Foreclosure filings fell 5 percent in the first half of the year but still exceed the first six months of 2009 by 8 percent, according to figures released today by RealtyTrac. One in 78 homeowners received a foreclosure notice in the first half.

Though foreclosure filings were down, bank repossessions (REOs) increased 5 percent from the previous quarter and 38 percent from Q2 2009 to 269,962 – a new quarterly high for the RealtyTrac report, increasing pressure on inventories.

In the second quarter, the foreclosure picture has improved significantly. Foreclosure filings were reported on 895,521 U.S. properties during the second quarter, a decrease of nearly 4 percent from the previous quarter and an increase of less than 1 percent from the second quarter of 2009. Default and auction notices were down on a quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year basis in the second quarter, In June foreclosure filings fell 3 percent from May and 7 percent from June 2009.

In California, record cancellations are taking pending foreclosures out of the market. According to ForeclosureRadar’s Calfornia report, the number of foreclosure sales that were cancelled hit an all time record in June. The increase was primarily driven by

just one lender JP Morgan Chase, and it’s acquisitions including Washington Mutual. Although the number of properties purchased by 3rd parties at auction dropped significantly in June, third parties purchased nearly the same percentage of the total properties sold, and at a better discount to market value than in months.

“The second quarter was a tale of two trends,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “The pace of properties entering foreclosure slowed as lenders pre-empted or delayed foreclosure proceedings on delinquent properties with more aggressive short sale and loan modification initiatives. Meanwhile the pace of properties completing the foreclosure process through bank repossession quickened as lenders cleared out a backlog of distressed inventory delayed by foreclosure prevention efforts in 2009.

“The midyear numbers put us on pace to exceed 3 million properties with foreclosure filings by the end of the year, and more than 1 million bank repossessions,” Saccacio continued. “The roller coaster pattern of foreclosure activity over the past 12 months demonstrates that while the foreclosure problem is being managed on the surface, a massive number of distressed properties and underwater loans continues to sit just below the surface, threatening the fragile stability of the housing market.”

Arizona registered the nation’s second highest state foreclosure rate in the first half of 2010, with 3.36 percent of its housing units (one in 30) receiving a foreclosure filing, and Florida registered the nation’s third highest state foreclosure rate, with 3.15 percent of its housing units (one in 32) receiving a foreclosure filing during the six months.

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