WASHINGTON (AFP) – US home foreclosures, the epicenter of the global financial crisis, spiked 81 percent in 2008 despite efforts to slow the “tsunami,” a data tracking firm said Thursday.
National foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — totaled 3.16 million and were reported on 2.33 million properties last year, said RealtyTrac, an Irvine, California-based company.
One in 54 housing units, or 1.84 percent of all US housing units, received at least one foreclosure filing during the year, up from 1.03 percent in 2007, the firm said.
In December alone, foreclosure filings spiked 17 percent from the previous month to 303,410 properties. That was nearly 41 percent higher than in December 2007.
On a quarterly basis, foreclosure activity in the fourth quarter fell nearly four percent from the third quarter but was still nearly 40 percent higher than a year ago.
“State legislation that slowed down the onset of new foreclosure activity clearly had an effect on fourth quarter numbers overall, but that effect appears to have worn off by December,” said James Saccacio, chief executive of RealtyTrac.
Saccacio said the big jump in December foreclosure activity was “somewhat surprising” given the moratoria on foreclosures by both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and programs from some of the major lenders and loan servicers aimed at delaying foreclosure actions against distressed homeowners.
“Clearly the foreclosure prevention programs implemented to date have not had any real success in slowing down this foreclosure tsunami,” he said.
Nevada, Florida, Arizona had the highest state foreclosure rates in 2008.
Nevada topped the list with more than seven percent of Nevada housing units — one in 14 — receiving at least one foreclosure notice.
A total of 77,693 Nevada properties received a foreclosure filing during the year, an increase of nearly 126 percent from 2007.
Florida was number two, with 4.52 percent of its housing units, followed by Arizona, with 4.49 percent.
Rounding out the top 10 state foreclosure rates were California, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Illinois and New Jersey.
The 2008 total foreclosure filings were a whopping 225 percent higher than in 2006, when the housing bubble began to collapse mid-year.
Falling home values and tight credit pushed borrowers with subprime, or high-risk, home mortgages to default, sparking the financial crunch that turned into a global crisis in August 2007.