ECONOMY -- August 9, 2012 at 2:30 PM EDT
July Foreclosure Data Offers Mixed Messages
July foreclosure figures offered mixed results, according to the latest "U.S. Foreclosure Market Report" by foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc.
Last month, the foreclosure process was initiated on 98,174 homes -- either through default notices or scheduled foreclosure auctions. That number represented a 6 percent increase from July 2011. Foreclosure starts have now gone up on an annual basis for three straight months following 27 months of consecutive decreases.
The data comes as banks have started catching up on unpaid mortgages after reaching a civil settlement earlier this year, which was tied to allegations of foreclosure abuses. In February, the NewsHour reported on the $25 billion deal between 49 states and five mortgage giants.
At the same time, RealtyTrac reported overall foreclosure activity in July was down 10 percent from the same month last year. The firm attributed the decline to a 21 percent drop in repossessions from July 2011.
California claimed the nation's highest foreclosure rate last month. Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Illinois rounded out the top five.
Wednesday, Citigroup Inc. announced its "Home Rental Program" that aims to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by allowing them to stay on as renters. The plan will be offered to select homeowners in six states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas. In March, Bank of America launched a similar "Mortgage to Lease" program.