WASHINGTON - Mortgage lenders foreclosed on 62 percent more U.S. homes in April than a year ago as borrowers failed to keep up with loan payments, an industry research firm said yesterday.
RealtyTrac Inc., of Irvine, Calif., said foreclosures last month spiked to 147,708 from 91,168 in April 2006, as lenders repossessed one out of every 783 homes.
However, the April figure was down 1 percent from March, when foreclosures hit a two-year high.
"Whether the decrease in April is the beginning of a . . . trend remains to be seen, but we expect foreclosure activity to at least stay above last year's levels for the remainder of 2007," said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive officer.
Nevada, Colorado, Connecticut, California and Ohio posted the top foreclosure rates nationwide, RealtyTrac said.
"We expect foreclosure activity to at least stay above last year's levels for the remainder of 2007, fueled by a combustible mix of risky loans taken out in the last few years - many in the subprime market - and slowing home-price appreciation," Saccacio said in a statement. Subprime mortgages are those taken by borrowers with poor credit histories.
Foreclosures - defined by RealtyTrac as default notices, auction-sale notices and bank repossessions - have been rising nationwide because of loans given to people with shaky credit. Many so-called subprime borrowers during the housing boom took out adjustable-rate mortgages, which are beginning to reset at higher rates.
Many subprime borrowers are unable to meet higher payments and are unable to sell their homes as housing prices slump.
More than 50 subprime lenders have folded, filed for bankruptcy protection, or sought a buyer since January 2006.
In the first quarter, properties valued at $750,000 or more made up about 2.5 percent of all foreclosures, the highest percentage since the first quarter of 2005.
"It's not just homes that are in poor areas or valued less going into foreclosure," said Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac spokesman. "The problem is widespread."
In the Region
Mortgage foreclosures in April.
Foreclosure filings: On 2,390 homes.
Change from March: - 18.18 percent.
Change from April 2006: - 1.57 percent.
Foreclosure rate: One for every 2,197 homes in the state - ranking 30th-highest nationally.
Foreclosure filings: On 3,122 homes.
Change from March: - 34.69 percent.
Change from April 2006: + 61.34 percent.
Foreclosure rate: One for every 1,060 homes in the state - ranking 16th-highest nationally.