making sense of the foreclosure stories

Posted by Leslie Bauer on Thursday, February 7th, 2008 at 9:27pm.

  Foreclosures up 75 percent in 2007

The number of households in foreclosure who lost their home soared in 2007 to about 405,000 households. For the year, total filings—which include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions—grew 75 percent, according to RealtyTrac, an online seller of foreclosure properties.

"There are parts of the country where we're seeing many more bank repossessions," said Rick Sharga, a spokesman for RealtyTrac. "People are flat out losing their homes."


  • While these numbers on the surface might sound alarming, a little perspective is in order. Foreclosures were lower prior to last year, and that causes the numbers to appear to be soaring only when looked at purely in terms of percentage gains.
  • RealtyTrac reports defaults on loans, not on properties, so one household that defaults on a primary loan and an equity line will be counted as two defaults, even though both loans were for the same house. This could artificially inflate foreclosure statistics.
  • A foreclosure filing includes default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. One home may fall into each of these categories as it moves through the long foreclosure process. RealtyTrac counts each step along the way separately. This also skews foreclosure statistics.
  • The overwhelming majority of homes are not in danger of foreclosure. If slightly more than 1 percent of U.S. homes were in some stage of foreclosure last year, then 99 percent of homes were not. Although some of the hardest hit communities with high concentrations of defaults are suffering, those communities do not reflect California overall.
  • There are tremendous differences between counties and cities as well as neighborhoods in the same town—all the more reason consumers need a REALTOR® who is a local community expert.

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