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The number of homes lost to foreclosure is at the highest level since the crisis began, signaling that the trend is worsening. “Millions of foreclosures are expected to pour onto the market in the coming years. That’s likely to force prices down and hurt even cities that had begun to rebound,” stated The Associated Press.
“The foreclosure crisis intensified across a majority of large U.S. metropolitan areas this summer, with Chicago and Seattle—cities outside of the states that have shouldered the worst of the housing downturn—seeing a sharp increase in foreclosure warnings,” a separate AP article stated.
“The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area registered the sharpest annual increase: 71 percent. One in every 129 households received a foreclosure filing” (ibid.).
Additional jitters for homeowners are surfacing. As the value of their homes drop—the threat of tax increases on January 1, 2011, looms large. “Not knowing what tax rates will be just a few months from now adds to the collective nervousness,” Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics’ chief economist, wrote in a New York Times editorial.
The reasons for the ongoing foreclosure problems are numerous: the subprime debacles, concerns over possible fraud by some lending institutions, continuing job losses, increasing medical costs, divorce and family crisis.
Although some of the problems are unavoidable, homeowners are being urged to take whatever steps are necessary to lessen foreclosure possibilities—including negotiating with their lenders, selling assets they can live without and, in certain instances, learning to become financially responsible.
The months ahead will determine whether the foreclosure outlook brightens—or if many thousands more will be left homeless.