N.H. foreclosures down but not out

There were fewer New Hampshire home foreclosures in January than the previous month and the total was down considerably from the same time last year. But a heavy dose of caution was recommended before declaring a solid uptick in New Hampshire’s economy, said the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.There were 184 foreclosures last month, a decrease of 9 percent from December 2010, and a significant 48 percent drop from the number of foreclosures reported in January 2010, said the authority, which bases its figures on those from the Mortgage Bankers Association monthly reports.January’s results represent the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year decreases and the lowest monthly total since the summer of 2007.Fourth-quarter 2010 mortgage delinquency rates for New Hampshire also fell to 7.5 percent from 8 percent from the third quarter – 1.4 percent lower than the U.S. average of 8.9 percent and 0.7 percent lower than the rest of New England, at 8.2 percent.New Hampshire’s mortgage delinquency rate was the second lowest in the six-state region. Vermont had New England’s lowest delinquency rate at 5.45 percent; Rhode Island had the region’s highest at nearly 9.5 percent.The authority said latest numbers are positive news, saying “slow but steady improvement in New Hampshire’s underlying economic conditions may be slowing the rate of foreclosures,” but also pointed out that last September’s temporary halt to foreclosures by several large lenders over mortgage document processing concerns is also responsible for the decline in foreclosed deeds.Further tempering the good news was the fact that January auction notices – considered an up-to-date indication for potential near-term foreclosures – actually increased by 3 percent, to 754 from 734 in December.”This is almost the same number of notices recorded in January of last year and remains well above a level that would indicate a significant improvement in the foreclosure problem,” said the authority.Also, New Hampshire’s foreclosure initiation rate for the fourth quarter of 2010 remained unchanged from the previous quarter, at 1.1 percent – maintaining the highest level recorded since 1999.”By contrast, the foreclosure initiation rates in New England and the U.S. declined in the fourth quarter. The rate of foreclosure initiation in New Hampshire continues to be well below the rate in Rhode Island, but is now above the rates in Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut,” added the authority. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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