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Delayed foreclosures skew housing data

  |   May 12, 2011 at 4:11 PM
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IRVINE, Calif., May 12 (UPI) -- Foreclosure activity in the United States fell for the seventh consecutive month in April, but the figure is misleading, a market research firm said.

Online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac said foreclosure activity, including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, dropped to a 40-month low on an annual basis in April. Foreclosures were 9 percent from March and 34 percent from April 2010.

In April, one out of every 593 U.S. housing units was involved in foreclosure activity.

RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio said the slowdown in foreclosures "Continues to be largely the result of massive delays in processing foreclosures rather than the result of a housing recovery that is lifting people out of foreclosure."

Saccacio said about 3.7 million properties "are in [a] seriously delinquent stage," but that nationwide, foreclosures completed in the first quarter of the year took an average of 400 days from the first default notice. In the first quarter of 2010, completed foreclosures took 340 days from the date of the original default notice.

Before the financial crisis hit in 2007, first-quarter foreclosures took an average of 151 days to complete, the firm said.

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