Lack of consistency key in foreclosures spike

Most anyone who happened upon the RealtyTrac report released Thursday would have been alarmed by the jump in New Hampshire foreclosures.

The data showed a 356 percent spike in the number of foreclosures this July from last – the second highest in the nation – and an 80 percent jump from June to July.

But as it turns out, an asterisk next to the number carried a lot more significance than its size.

A spokesman for RealtyTrac said the 2007 data from New Hampshire and a few other states was underreported, so the apparent spike is artificially high.

The company did not have a person consistently collecting data from these locations last year.

This year’s data is considered reliable, the spokesman said. The company reported that 903 properties were in foreclosure in the state in July.

However, there are lingering questions about the reliability of national averages, given the flawed data not just in New Hampshire, but the District of Columbia, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oregon and North Dakota.

It’s unclear if RealtyTrac factored those percentage increases into its calculation of a national jump in foreclosure activity of 55 percent this July from last – a number widely reported Thursday by various media outlets.

The company, which operates a well-known real-estate Web site, also reported that foreclosure numbers jumped 8 percent nationwide from June to July.