Bank deal won't ease Georgia foreclosures, already among highest

Bank deal won't ease Georgia foreclosures, already among highest

February 16th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

TOP FORECLOSURE STATES

The highest rate of foreclosure filings in January were in

1. Nevada, one of every 198 properties

2. California, one of every 265 properties

3. Arizona, one of every 325 properties

4. Georgia, one of every 328 properties

5. Michigan, one of every 354 properties

The new year is beginning with fewer property foreclosures, but last week's settlement between regulators and major banks over foreclosure procedures soon could boost foreclosure activity again.

"We expect the pattern of increasing foreclosures to continue in the coming months, especially given the finalized mortgage and foreclosure settlement reached in early February between 49 state attorneys general and five of the nation's largest lenders," said RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore in a report released Wednesday. "The settlement sets forth clear guidelines for lenders and servicers to follow when foreclosing, which should allow them to push through some of the delayed foreclosures from last year."

But Moore said other lawsuits and legislative proposals to alter the foreclosure process could delay foreclosures.

RealtyTrac, the online foreclosure service which tracks default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, counted 210,941 foreclosure filings in the United States last month. That was a 3 percent increase from the previous month but still down 19 percent from January 2011. The report also shows one in every 624 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

Georgia continues to be among the hardest-hit states, according to data released by RealtyTrac.

In January, 12,467 properties received a foreclosure notice in the Peach State, or one of every 328 properties in the state. Georgia's foreclosure rate was down nearly 2.4 percent from a year ago, but was still nearly double the U.S. average.

Tennessee's foreclosure rate plunged nearly 39 percent in January compared with the same period a year earlier. In Tennessee, one of every 1,335 properties got a foreclosure notice last month, or less than half the rate for the U.S. as a whole.

Tina M. Williams, a certified housing counselor for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Chattanooga, said most homeowners with delinquent loans have government-backed mortgages with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or other private loans not covered by the government's settlement last week with five major banks and mortgage servicers.

"People are excited because they think this agreement will help them out, but when you tell them they won't qualify for this assistance they get very frustrated," Williams said. "Most of the people coming in for assistance are just bombarded with requests for information, and they are often confused and are already 60 or 90 days behind on their payments."