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700 MS homes in foreclosure in 3rd quarter

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Lenders took back the property of just over 700 Mississippi homeowners during the third quarter of 2010, a national company that tracks foreclosures reported Thursday.

Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac said that although foreclosure action picked up overall, there was a slight decline from August to September.

RealtyTrac said that in addition to the repossession of 727 homes, another 705 property owners received a notice of a pending foreclosure sale during the July-through-September period.

One in every 885 homes received some sort of foreclosure-related notice during the third quarter. Mississippi ranked 46th nationally in the rate of foreclosure actions, RealtyTrac said.

Third-quarter foreclosure filings in Mississippi increased 40.1 percent from the second quarter of 2010, but decreased 35.5 percent from the third quarter of 2009.

RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said he expects to see a dip in lender repossessions in the fourth quarter, not because of an improving economy, but because some major lenders have stopped foreclosures amid questions about documentation.

On Wednesday, officials in 50 states and the District of Columbia launched a joint investigation into allegations that mortgage companies mishandled documents and broke laws in foreclosing on hundreds of thousands of homeowners.

The states’ attorneys general and bank regulators will examine whether mortgage company employees made false statements or prepared documents improperly. Employees of four large lenders have acknowledged in depositions that they signed off on foreclosure documents without reading them.

RealtyTrac said the Mississippi foreclosure rate dropped 10.9 percent from August and 63.3 percent from September 2009. Last month, there were 260 homes repossessed, while 264 were set for auction by lenders.

Those actions affected one in every 2,418 Mississippi homes, ranking the state 45th in the United States.

RealtyTrac reported that 930,437 properties in the United States were hit by a third-quarter foreclosure action, affecting one in every 139 homes. Nationally, 288,345 properties were repossessed.

The highest foreclosure rates in the third quarter were recorded in Nevada, Arizona, Florida, California, Idaho, Utah, Georgia, Michigan, Illinois and Hawaii.

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