Foreclosures jump 57% in March

The housing bust continues to take its toll, with over 50,000 homes lost to foreclosure. Nevada once again leads the nation in defaults.

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By Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Foreclosure filings jumped 57% in March compared with the same month last year and rose 5% versus February, as the nation's housing market continues to deteriorate.

RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosure properties, said Tuesday that 234,685 homes were hit with foreclosure filings last month, which include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. Of those, 51,393 homes were lost to foreclosure - a 10% increase over the number of homes lost in February.

"What this report shows us is that the housing market correction is ongoing and we shouldn't expect the subprime problem to vanish anytime soon," said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

On a year over year basis, the number of homes repossessed by banks are up 129%. By contrast, the number of foreclosed going up for auction increased a comparatively low 32% since March 2007.

A growing trend

That discrepancy suggests that more troubled borrowers are simply walking away from their homes after defaulting, according to RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio.

After a home goes into foreclosure it goes up for public auction; if the home doesn't sell, the title goes to the bank. But when a home owner walks away the title goes straight to the bank, which then tries to sell the house on the open market where it can command a higher price, rather than at auction.

"When people have nothing left in the home, they get a foreclosure notice and they're gone," said Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac spokesman.

Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate of any state in March, marking the 15th consecutive month that it's has topped the list. One out of every 139 Nevada households received a foreclosure filing last month, which is nearly 4 times the national average, and an increase of 62% versus March 2007.

The foreclosure rate in California was the second highest in the nation, with one in every 204 homes receiving a foreclosure filing in March. Foreclosure filings were reported on 64,711 California properties in March, up 21% from the previous month and up almost 106% from March 2007.

Home prices still falling

Florida was third on the list, with one in every 282 households being hit with a foreclosure filing last month. That's a decrease of nearly 7% from February, but an increase of nearly 112% from last year.

All three states saw dramatic increases in home prices during the housing boom as speculative buyers flooded the market. But home prices in these so-called "Sun Belt" states have fallen dramatically since the housing market collapsed last summer.  To top of page

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