Foreclosure Filings Fall in May

By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 11, 2009; 9:34 AM

Foreclosure filings fell in May compared with the previous month, but remain at elevated levels, according to data from RealtyTrac released today.

The firm counted 321,480 filings nationally, which can range from default notices to bank repossessions. That was down 6 percent from April, but an increase of nearly 18 percent from May 2008. RealtyTrac, a private firm, says its data include more than 90 percent of U.S. households.

Despite the dip, this was the third month in a row that foreclosure filings exceeded 300,000 and the third highest monthly total since the firm began collecting the data in 2005, according to RealtyTrac. The company estimates that in a normal market, filings would fall to under about 100,000 a month.

Instead, the number of filings will likely begin to grow again as foreclosure moratoriums implemented by lenders and states expire during the next few months, James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive, said in a statement.

Nevada and Arizona continued to have the highest foreclosure rates in May. Foreclosure filings in the District, Virginia and Maryland fell during that period, compared with the previous month.

The monthly data are a reminder of the challenges facing the Obama administration as it implements a sweeping plan to arrest rising foreclosure rates. The administration has said it expects to be able to help up to 4 million homeowners under its program, but so far it has not made a significant impact. Instead, the country's weak labor market and falling home prices continue to push a growing number of borrowers into delinquency.

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