Foreclosures Continue to Hamper Housing Recovery
- The Bonez

The total number of homes in the United States facing the very real possibility of foreclosure went up seven percent from June to July; as the federal government's attempts to ease the crisis continue to fall short in the face of the mounting foreclosures.

July's foreclosure total was a whopping 33 percent higher than in July of 2008,according to a report issued Thursday afternoon from ReatyTrac, Inc, a foreclosure-listing firm. One out of every 354 homes, or more than 355,000 total, households received a notice of default or some other foreclosure related notice. That marks the highest number of properties receiving a notice in any month in the four-plus years that RealtyTrac has published the data.

Banks took possession of almost 88,000 homes during the month, up from almost 80,000 in June.

The state with the highest foreclosure rate in the nation continued to be Nevada(31 months in a row), followed closely by California, Arizona, and Florida. The rest of the top 10 were Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Georgia, and Illinois. Measured by cities, Las Vegas has the highest foreclosure rate, then Stockton and Modesto, both California cities.

Despite the run of positive data that would support a stabilization in the housing market after 3 years of falling prices, foreclosures continue to be a significant problem.

Generally speaking, foreclosed properties are sold at a major discounted price, having a negative affect on the value of neighboring homes. The home financing sector has not adapted well to the dramatic increase in foreclosures. Many mortgage companies have been unsympathetic to the plight of struggling homeowners, prompting the Obama Administration's legislation to encourage lenders to help people save their homes. The legislation provides for cash incentives to lenders who either restructure existing loans or allow the homeowner to get out from under the debt through a short sale.

According to a report from the Treasury Department last week, of the 2.72 million eligible homeowners who are two months or more behind on their mortgage, banks have only offered about 399,000 of them short term loans or some other type of assistance. About 236,000, or about 10 percent, are participating in a three month trial program in which their monthly payments are lowered.

Analysts are saying that the total number of distressed properties is just too high for the new legislation to be able to significantly ease the crisis.

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