US real estate market saw record foreclosure highs in 2009, report shows

Nevada leads foreclosure numbers in the United States

The US property market saw record numbers of foreclosures last year with more than half concentrated in just four states.

The nation’s foreclosure crisis revolved around the hard hit bubble states of California, Florida, Arizona and Illinois, figures from RealtyTrac show.

A record 2.8 million properties received a foreclosure filing, a 21% jump from 2008 and a 120% increase from 2007. In all, 2.2% of all US housing units, or one in every 45 properties, received at least one foreclosure filing during the year, up from 1.84% in 2008, 1.03% in 2007 and 0.58% in 2006.

The fact that foreclosure filings increased to record levels in a year highlighted by the launch of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which many industry insiders credit with strongly slowing the pace of foreclosures that would have otherwise been seen, sheds light on how high the numbers could have been. According to the latest Treasury report, the servicers participating in HAMP offered more than a million three month trial period modifications to borrowers in distress.

‘As bad as the 2009 numbers are, they probably would have been worse if not for legislative and industry related delays in processing delinquent loans,’ said James Saccacio, chief executive of RealtyTrac.

In December, typically a slow month for foreclosures, new filings climbed 14% to encompass more than 349,000 homes, up 15% from 2008’s levels in the same month.

Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in 2009, with more than 10% of all housing units in the state receiving at least one foreclosure filing, the third straight year the state has led the nation in pace of foreclosure activity.

Arizona was the second hardest hit state with more than 6% of its housing supply receiving a foreclosure filing during last year, followed by Florida with 5.93%.

‘Despite all the delays, foreclosure activity still hit a record high for our report in 2009, capped off by a substantial increase in December,’ Saccacio said. ‘In the long term, a massive supply of delinquent loans continues to loom over the housing market, and many of those delinquencies will end up in the foreclosure process in 2010 and beyond as lenders gradually work their way through the backlog,’ he warned.

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