Foreclosures Hit New Record

With moratoria lifted, foreclosures are on the march.

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ForeclosureS.com reports that 175,199 homes were lost to foreclosure in March--a new monthly record and a 44 percent increase from the previous month--as lenders lifted foreclosure moratoria.

From the press release:

Completed foreclosures hit another monthly record in March as 175,199 homes were lost to foreclosure, up 44 percent from February’s record high, according to the latest U.S. Foreclosure Index released today by ForeclosureS.com, a leading real estate information provider.

The number of foreclosed properties was up dramatically from 121,756 in February. Nearly 370,000 properties have been repossessed by lenders so far this year – 18.3 of every 1,000 households – up more than 38 percent from 266,986 in the fourth quarter of 2008, the U.S. Foreclosure Index shows, and up 76 percent from 210,280 in the first quarter of 2008.

The first-quarter 2009 total is the highest quarterly total of completed foreclosures since the foreclosure crisis began. Pre-foreclosure filings – filings that could lead up to a completed foreclosure – also reached their highest quarterly level, topping 600,000 for the first time since the foreclosure crisis began.

While February and March headlines boasted of government efforts to stop foreclosures, in fact March was the first month when major government-backed lenders – including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – lifted moratoria on many properties in the first week of March. Only properties eligible for modification under the Obama administration’s plan were covered by continuing foreclosure moratoria, according to statements by the two agencies.

“The floodgates of foreclosure opened with the expiration of these foreclosure freezes,” says Alexis McGee, foreclosure expert, educator, and author. “With rising unemployment, a backlog of delayed foreclosures and increasing abandonment of properties, foreclosures soared in March to levels we have not seen in this crisis.”