According the foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac, Inc., 1.9 million homes have entered the foreclosure process in 2011. This is the lowest level since 2007 when the recession began. However, the decline does not mean that the housing market is getting better. Banks are holding on to some of their inventory due to the fact that they do not want to crowd the market with foreclosed homes. In addition to that, there have been problems with the ways some lenders were handling foreclosures without verifying documents. RealtyTrac anticipates that 2012's foreclosure rate will be higher than last year's, but will still remain below the peak of 2010.
High unemployment, a sluggish housing market and falling home values remain major factors in homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments. Many borrowers also have simply stopped paying their mortgage because they owe more on the mortgage than the home is worth.
RealtyTrac said that December's foreclosure filings on 205,024 homes were the lowest monthly total since November 2007. The figure was also 20 percent below the prior-year period's results.
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