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Foreclosure filings increase locally in May, as national numbers appear to level off

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 10, 2010 - Foreclosure filings increased in the St. Louis region in May, even as national numbers showed signs of leveling off, according to monthly foreclosure statistics released today by RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure filings include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions (REOs).

Across the St. Louis metropolitan statistical area -- which includes St. Louis city and county, plus seven surrounding Missouri counties and eight counties in Illinois -- filings increased to 2,558 in May, from 2,278 in April. That was a 41 percent increase over May 2009, when the number was 1,802.


The increase in local filings appeared to be driven by default notices in Madison and St. Clair counties, accounting for 354 of 369 default notices delivered in the region in May. Auction and REO notices were centered in St. Louis and in St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties.

Nationally, the number of foreclosure filings on U.S. properties decreased by 3 percent in May, to 322,920. Still, one in every 400 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in May, according to RealtyTrac.

May's national numbers showed an increase of less than 1 percent from May 2009 and confirmed that overall foreclosure activity appears to be leveling off as lenders work through their backlog of distressed properties, stated James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac's CEO, in a release.

"Defaults and scheduled auctions combined increased by 28 percent from 2007 to 2008 and another 32 percent from 2008 to 2009 -- creating a build-up of delayed bank repossessions,'' said Saccacio. "Lenders appear to be ramping up the pace of completing those forestalled foreclosures even while the inflow of delinquencies into the foreclosure process has slowed."

Other facts from the report:

* In St. Louis County, foreclosure filings rose 27 percent, from 884 in April to 1,122 in May.

* In St. Louis city, foreclosure filings rose to 432 in May, an increase of 17 percent from April, when filings were 368. One year ago, there were 330 filings.

* Though May's foreclosure filings in Illinois decreased by 20 percent from April, more than 15,000 properties received notices in May, or one in every 350 housing units.

* Missouri reported 3,841 foreclosure filings in May, an increase of 5.6 percent from April and 37 percent from one year ago.

* The number of U.S. properties receiving default notices decreased by 7 percent from April -- and by 22 percent from May 2009. It was the fewest default notices since November 2008.

* Nationally, foreclosure auctions decreased by 4 percent in May, but bank repossessions set a record monthly high for the second month in a row. Repossessions -- or REOs -- increased by 44 percent from May 2009.

* Nevada once again had the nation's highest foreclosure rate with one in every 79 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in May. The state's foreclosure rate was more than five times the national average.

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

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