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Foreclosure numbers lower than last year, but likely to climb

Recent numbers indicate that the economy may be on the mend, but news about the real estate market is mixed. According to numbers recently released by RealtyTrac, 210,941 foreclosure filings were reported on U.S. properties in January 2012. Like the rest of the country, South Carolina has been hurt by a high number of foreclosure cases.

Although these numbers mark a 19 percent decrease from January 2011, they are up 3 percent from December 2011. Experts predict that the number of foreclosures is likely to increase as the year goes on, due in no small part to the recent settlement between states' attorneys general and the five major banks on mortgage fraud.

In 2010, it was discovered that major banks and mortgage servicers were processing foreclosure documents without verification. Some employees even signed papers they had not read or used fake signatures to make sure that foreclosures went through. Banks put some foreclosure efforts on hold in 2011, until they could address the robo-signing problems and make sure that the foreclosures were occurring properly. The recent settlement, however, provides mortgage lenders and servicers with clear guidelines, which are sure to make the foreclosure process easier.

RealtyTrac predicts that one million homes will be foreclosed upon this year, which is a significant increase over last year. In 2011, banks foreclosed on 804,000 homes.

If you or someone you love is facing foreclosure, contact an experienced real estate attorney. A knowledgeable real estate lawyer can assess your case and advise you of all your options and how to best proceed. The foreclosure process can be confusing and emotional, and the assistance of a knowledgeable professional can help to streamline the process.

Source: Des Moines Register, "Foreclosure activity edges higher in January," Alex Veiga, Feb. 16, 2012

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