RealtyTrac: State’s foreclosures fell during first quarter

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The number of Mississippi homeowners ensnarled in foreclosure dropped during the first quarter of 2011, although lenders still seized 594 properties, a national foreclosure tracking firm said today.

For January-through-March, 1,083 properties in the state were hit by some kind of foreclosure-related action, ranging from an initial default notice to outright repossession, Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac said. Those notices hit one in every 1,184 housing units in Mississippi, ranking the state 46th in the United States.

The number of overall actions was down 43 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010 and 20 percent from the first quarter of 2010, RealtyTrac said.

Nationally, foreclosure-related actions were taken against 681,153 properties during the first quarter — one in every 191 housing units — with 215,046 repossessions, RealtyTrac said. The U.S. figure dropped 14.7 percent from the fourth quarter and 26.9 percent from the first quarter of 2010.

RealtyTrac chief executive James Saccacio said that although U.S. activity fell to a three-year low, an increase in foreclosure activity could occur as lenders refile paperwork that was questioned legally last year. Saccacio warned of a “shadow inventory” of homes where borrowers are behind in their payments, but have yet to show up in foreclosure figures.

Aggravating the situation are declining home prices, weak buyer demand and tight credit, he said.

Among the 211 metropolitan areas ranked by RealtyTrac:

• Gulfport-Biloxi recorded 179 first-quarter foreclosure actions, affecting one in every 613 housing units. That figure was up 2.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010, but down 51.5 percent from the first quarter of 2010. Gulfport-Biloxi ranked 179th in RealtyTrac’s metro count.

• Jackson had 334 foreclosure actions in the first quarter, hitting one in every 674 housing units. That was down 68.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010, but up 9.5 percent from the first quarter of 2010. Jackson ranked 180th on the metro list.

Source: Associated Press

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