N.H. foreclosures fall in September

There were fewer foreclosures in September than August, but the numbers still remain higher than last year, according to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.The Housing Authority said there were 326 foreclosures reported in September — a 20 percent decrease compared to the 408 foreclosures recorded in August.But September also was the ninth consecutive month in which the number of foreclosed deeds was higher than a year earlier — 14 percent higher.So far this year alone there have been 3,268 foreclosures in New Hampshire. In all of 2009, there were 3,467.”Through September of this year, there have been 28 percent more foreclosure deeds recorded in total than last year at this time,” according to the Housing Authority.Foreclosure auction notices – an indicator of the number of homeowners who are in danger of having their homes repossessed – increased to 947 in September, up 9 percent from the 871 notices recorded in August.”This is the second-highest number of notices recorded in any month [through 2005],” said the authority. “This high level of foreclosure notice activity is evidence that despite some improvement in traditional economic indicators, foreclosures continue to be a problem in New Hampshire. For the past three years, September’s notices have been exceeded in each October.”Earlier this month, serious problems surfaced over the poor review quality major banks apparently performed on their foreclosure paperwork. Termed “robo-signing,” thousands of foreclosures were all but automatically approved by processors with little or shoddy fact-checking.Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Ally Financial and others scrambled to review their books, and called for a temporary halt on foreclosure proceedings while they sorted out the situation.The issue caused attorneys general, banking officials and state authorities from all 50 states – including the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and the state Banking Department — to call for an official investigation into the matter.The Housing Authority said the temporary moratorium on foreclosures could cause something of a false slowdown in filings in the fourth quarter only to have a spike later when the halt is lifted.Already, Bank of America, which has temporarily shelved its foreclosure proceedings in the 23 states that require court oversight, announced it would lift its ban on Oct. 25. Currently, BofA and JPMorgan Chase have entered into talks with the attorneys general over the foreclosure snafu.New Hampshire does not have court oversight of foreclosures, but foreclosure filings are recorded at the county Registry of Deeds. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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