February foreclosures up 60%

From CNN/Money:

Foreclosures up 60% in February

Foreclosure filings nationwide jumped 60% in February compared with the same month last year, but they decreased slightly versus January, according to a report released Thursday.

RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosure properties, said 223,651 homes got hit with foreclosure filings last month, which include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. 46,508 of those were lost to bank repossessions, which more than doubled over last year.

The report also indicated that foreclosure filings in February fell 4% compared with January, similar to a 6% decrease that occurred during the same time-span in 2007.

The monthly decrease is a “seasonal occurrence,” according to Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac spokesman. Foreclosure rates spike in January when homeowners are saddled with extra debt from the holidays, then settle in February, he said.

The report suggests that efforts from government and consumer groups to combat the rising number of foreclosures have not had a significant impact, according to Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

“I don’t see evidence that any of the interventions we’ve been implementing are having any effect,” he said. The report “doesn’t show that measures have failed but it’s pretty clear that nothing we’ve undertaken is slowing foreclosures.”

Sharga pointed out that the most recent action by the Federal Reserve to inject liquidity into the credit markets could help the mortgage market, though he agreed with Bernstein that “the previously announced government initiatives haven’t had any effect.”

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