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New foreclosure starts trending downward, but thousands are still in the pipeline, says report

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 12, 2013 - Five years since the financial meltdown, the number of new foreclosures in the U.S. is trending downward, but one in every 1,019 homes received some type of foreclosure filing in August, according to RealtyTrac, an online company that tracks the housing market.

Nationwide, 128,560 properties received a notice for default, auction or bank repossession last month. That was a decrease of 2 percent from July and 34 percent from August 2012. This was the 35th consecutive month that year-to-year foreclosure activity declined, according to the report released today.

"The foreclosure floodwaters have receded in most parts of the country, but lenders and communities continue to clean up the damage left behind, which means the recent uptick in bank repossessions is a trend that will likely continue into next year,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, in a statement that accompanied the report.

He warned that some areas would face “foreclosure flash floods’’ as delayed foreclosure starts are pushed into the pipeline.

Other findings:

* The number of foreclosure starts nationwide in August – 55,775 – was the lowest since December 2005.

* Foreclosure starts were down in 38 states, including judicial states, where judges rule on foreclosures, and non-judicial states, where a documentation process is followed but court approval is not required. Illinois is a judicial state; Missouri is not. The foreclosure process tends to take longer in judicial states.

* Bank repossessions increased 6 percent in August but were still down 25 percent from a year ago.

* Nationally, Miami had the highest rate for foreclosure filings among the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas: one in every 324 homes.

* There were 1,198 foreclosure filings in the St. Louis area in August -- a rate of one in every 1,039 housing units. That was slightly above the national average. Filings increased by 1.3 percent from July but were about 41 percent lower than a year ago.

* Missouri had 1,419 filings in August, up 1 percent from July but down about 41 percent from August 2012.

* In Illinois, there were 7,289 filings, down 6 percent from July and 59 percent from one year ago. The state ranked among the top 10 states for foreclosures, with a rate of one in every 725 homes.

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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