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Foreclosure Activity Plunges in N.M.

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Foreclosure activity in New Mexico took a divergent turn last month, with foreclosure starts plunging to a more than four-year low and bank repossessions increasing to 14-month high.

The opening salvo in a foreclosure – the filing of a complaint against the delinquent homeowner in state district court – dropped to 171 in November, down from 411 in October and 818 in November 2011, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. reported Thursday.

Foreclosure starts statewide dropped to the lowest level seen since at least early 2008.

Repossessed homes jumped to 252 in November from a mere 76 in October and 78 in November 2011, according to RealtyTrac. This past November’s 252 repo homes were the highest number since 325 were repossessed in September 2011.

Repossessions went into decline last year as more lenders agreed to short sales, which dispose of distressed properties before the final step of a repossession or foreclosure auction. A short sale means the home is sold for less than the amount due on the original mortgage.

New Mexico’s decrease in foreclosure starts and increase in repossessions reflect national trends.

In all, New Mexico had 505 homes somewhere in the foreclosure process during November, a low not seen since at least 2008. Nationwide, overall foreclosure activity has been in a general decline for more than two years.

“The drop in overall foreclosure activity in November was caused largely by a 71-month low in foreclosure starts for the month, more evidence that we are past the worst of the foreclosure problem brought about by the housing bubble bursting six years ago,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

Last month marked the first annual increase nationwide in bank repossessions since October 2010, when allegations of abuses by the mortgage industry compelled many lenders to temporarily halt foreclosures.

But the number of homes entering the foreclosure process sank to 77,494 nationwide. That’s a decline of 13 percent from October and a drop of 28 percent from November last year, the firm said.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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