Foreclosures rise, but pace slows, in April

The April filings 'present the classic economist's dilemma'


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The number of foreclosures filed in April in New Hampshire rose for the third month in a row, but they continue to lag behind last year's pace.

The April filings "present the classic economist's dilemma," said the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, which releases the figures each month.

That's because the number of foreclosure deeds filed in April -- 384 -- represent the third monthly increase in a row and the fifth-highest number recorded in a month since the series began in January 2008.

At the same time, though, the 384 filings represent a 5 percent decrease from the 404 recorded in April of last year as well as a 5 percent decline in the annual year-to-date cumulative total when compared to 2011.

Year to date, 1,347 foreclosure deeds have been filed in New Hampshire in 2012, compared with 1,417 at the same time last year.While the month-over-month increase is disheartening, the overall year-over-year decline points to the foreclosure market in the state making a long, slow recovery, said the authority.

"With slow and stable improvement in the economy as well as the housing market, it is likely that the pace of improvement in foreclosures will also be slow," said the authority. "During that time period, the negative influence of foreclosed and distressed property on the housing market will continue."

The number of foreclosure auction notices, which provide an up-to-date indication of the number of households that have fallen seriously behind in their mortgage payments, decreased in April by nearly 22 percent to 490 from 627 in the prior month.

That is a 9 percent decrease when compared with April of last year and the third monthly decrease in a row, which points to a long-term trend of "a slow, shallow decline."

Based on the Mortgage Bankers Association's National Delinquency Survey, mortgage delinquency rates in the first quarter of 2012 declined in the nation, New England and New Hampshire. This is the seventh quarterly decrease in a row, though the figures are historically still very high.

New Hampshire's delinquency rate of 6.3 percent was below that of New England at 6.8 percent and the national average of 6.9 percent.

While that is way down from its peak of 9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, the figure is still well above its pre-recession rate.

The national survey also found that the inventory of properties in the foreclosure process is about 2.4 percent of all homes with mortgages in New Hampshire, which is a slight decrease from the previous quarter but very near its record high of 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

"At the current pace of foreclosure deed recordings, it could take more than 18 months to clear this inventory, without any new foreclosure initiations," said the authority. 

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