Foreclosure filings in record jump

Hope Now reports a 20% increase in initial foreclosure filings during March. But there was a steep drop in bank repossessions.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)
By Les Christie, staff writer

March by the numbers
An at-a-glance look at Hope Now's monthly foreclosure figures.
New foreclosure proceedings started
March February Change
290,000 243,000 19.3%
Loans modified
March February Change
133,910 133,836 0.05%
Repayment plans granted
March February Change
114,934 110,638 3.9%
Number of homes repossessed
March February Change
53,000 87,000 -39%
Total repossessions since July 2007
Source:Hope Now
Mortgage Rates
30 yr fixed 3.80%
15 yr fixed 3.20%
5/1 ARM 3.84%
30 yr refi 3.82%
15 yr refi 3.20%

Find personalized rates:

Rates provided by

NEW YORK ( -- Lenders continued to rewrite troubled mortgages at a fast clip during March, but the weakening economy still sent foreclosure starts soaring to a record high.

March mortgage workout results announced on Thursday by Hope Now - a coalition of mortgage lenders, servicers, investors and community groups put together to fight the foreclosure plague - were a decidedly mixed bag.

Approximately 134,000 mortgages were rewritten by Hope Now members, which is nearly 20,000 more than the average since September. Another 115,000 at-risk borrowers were granted repayment plans, for a total of nearly a quarter of million troubled mortgages addressed for the month.

Repayment plans merely postpone payments for delinquent borrowers without making them any more affordable. Mortgage modifications are changes in the terms of loans that reduce or freeze interest rates, extend the life of the loan, reduce loan balances or any combination of those three, to, ideally, lower the amount borrowers pay monthly. Modifications are considered more effective that repayment plans.

"The lending industry is steadily working out solutions for homeowners and keeping as many as possible in their homes," said Faith Schwartz, director of Hope Now. "I expect that these numbers will continue to increase as servicers work with the Obama Administration to implement its Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan."

Steep spike in starts

Despite the efforts, however, more homeowners fell into default in March. Servicers initiated foreclosure proceedings against 290,000 mortgage borrowers, a jump of nearly 20% from February's 243,000, and the highest monthly total since the coalition began tracking data in mid-2007. Starts have risen by more than a third since January.

On the other hand, completed foreclosure sales, transactions in which lenders have actually taken back homes from defaulting borrowers, dropped by 39% in March. Banks repossessed only 53,000 homes compared with 87,000 taken over during February.

Since the mortgage meltdown hit in July 2007, 1,447,866 homes have been lost to foreclosure.

Michael Bright, a chief statistician with Hope Now, attributed the sharp reduction in completed foreclosures to servicers suspending foreclosures as they geared up to implement the administration's refinance and mortgage-modification program.

"It's too early to say this is a trend," he said in a press release. "But anecdotal reports from servicers do indicate that they are taking this extra step to help homeowners who qualify stay in their homes."

Once the program is fully in place, servicers will have more tools to be able to make successful modifications to unaffordable mortgages. In the meantime, they're allowing a kind of grace period for homeowners until the government program can be applied to individual cases.

"Our counselors have been getting hardly any answers for weeks," said Mark Seifert, director of the East Side Organizing Project in Cleveland, which advocates mortgage workouts for hundreds of delinquent homeowners a month. "The servicers have been sitting on their hands."

But the impact of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan should begin to be felt soon, according to Schwartz, who thinks it going to change - and improve - the mortgage landscape.

"It's one of the most comprehensive programs I've seen," she said. ""Eleven major servicers have formally signed on, and we should start to see data from it over the next few months." To top of page

Find mortgage rates in your area

They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
10 of the most luxurious airline amenity kits When it comes to in-flight pampering, the amenity kits offered by these 10 airlines are the ultimate in luxury More
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.