Completed foreclosures hit another record high last month, with 175,199 homes lost to foreclosure, up 44 percent from February’s record numbers, according to Foreclosures.com.
A record 370,000 homes have been repossessed by banks and mortgage lenders this year, up more than 38 percent from the 266,986 seen in the fourth quarter and 76 percent from the 210,280 in the first quarter of 2008.
Pre-foreclosure filing also reached a quarterly high, topping 600,000 for the first time since the mortgage crisis began a few years back.
“The floodgates of foreclosure opened with the expiration of these foreclosure freezes,” said Alexis McGee of Foreclosures.com, in a release. “With rising unemployment, a backlog of delayed foreclosures and increasing abandonment of properties, foreclosures soared in March to levels we have not seen in this crisis.”
“Hopefully, this is a short-term surge caused by months of delayed foreclosures. This is a very troubling turn after seeing some bright spots earlier this year,” McGee added. “However, with Obama’s new Making Homes Affordable Plan now in effect we are hoping that in the near future we will see a reduction in new pre-foreclosure filings, which will help stabilize the housing markets.”
“March’s high numbers may also be caused by defaults on previously modified loans. Earlier this month the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision reported higher and rising re-default rates on modified mortgages as part of their fourth-quarter 2008 report,” she added.
And bank earnings, which may look strong when first quarter numbers are released, could also take a turn for the worse as bad loans are finally written off after some opportune delays.