TOPICS > Economy

Number of Homes Headed to Foreclosure Doubles

BY Admin  April 29, 2008 at 10:00 AM EST

Bank-owned home in Las Vegas, Nev.; AP photo

Foreclosure filings are up in all but four states, and
weakening property values and tighter lending have left many homeowners
powerless to prevent homes from being auctioned to the highest bidder. Among
the hardest-hit states are Nevada, Florida and California.

The research firm RealtyTrac says the latest tally
represents an increase of 23 percent from the fourth quarter of last year.
Foreclosure increased on an annual basis in 46 states and in 90 of the 100
largest metropolitan areas, to a total of 649,917 properties.

“In most of the states with the highest levels of
foreclosure activity, we’re still seeing the fallout from overheated home
prices and people overextending themselves with risky loans to try to buy those
properties,” Rick Sharga, vice president of marketing at RealtyTrac, told
Reuters.

“I’m more convinced that we haven’t seen the peak of
foreclosure activity yet, and the wave probably won’t crest until late third or
fourth quarter of 2008,” he added.

One of every 194 households received a notice of default,
auction sale or bank repossession between January and March, for the seventh
straight quarter of rising foreclosure activity, RealtyTrac said.

The study came a day after a U.S. Census Bureau announcement
showing the share of vacant U.S.
homes grew to a record high in the first quarter. The percentage of
owner-occupied homes sitting empty rose to 2.9 percent, the third straight
monthly rise, for a total of 18.6 million vacancies.

A closely watched index showed Tuesday that U.S.
home prices fell by 12.7 percent in February versus last year, with 17 of the
20 metro areas reporting record annual declines, according to the Associated
Press.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index of
20 cities also showed Tuesday that home values in 10 cities plunged by double
digits, led by Las Vegas and Miami. Only Charlotte,
N.C., posted a positive return
year-over-year. All 20 metro areas have declined for six straight months.

Hope Now, a Bush administration-organized mortgage industry
group, said nearly 503,000 homeowners had received mortgage aid in the first
quarter. Most of the aid was temporary, however.

President Bush planned to talk about U.S. economic problems in a news
conference Tuesday morning in the Rose Garden.