More U.S. homes are entering the foreclosure process, setting the stage for a surge in properties repossessed by lenders this year.
The number of homes that received first-time foreclosure notices rose 7 percent in March from the previous month, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
That marks the third consecutive monthly increase this year and reflects stepped-up efforts by banks to take action against homeowners who fail to keep up with mortgage payments.
Foreclosure activity, as measured by the number of homes receiving foreclosure-related notices, slowed sharply in the fall of 2010 when claims surfaced that some banks and mortgage servicers were processing foreclosures without verifying documents.
A $25 billion settlement reached in February between the biggest U.S. mortgage lenders and state officials has paved the way for banks to take action on unpaid mortgages, many of which have been in a procedural limbo for months or years. And it’s those homes that could ultimately be foreclosed-upon and end up back on the market.
Foreclosures typically sell at a discount to other homes and can drag down the value of neighboring properties, so the prospect of more foreclosures means it could take longer for home prices in some areas to bounce back