WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. foreclosures set a record in 2008 in spite of moratoriums in place to stem the rising tide of mortgage failures, an industry expert said.
Foreclosures topped the 3 million mark during the year, jumping 81 percent higher than 2007 and 225 percent higher than 2006, RealtyTrac reported.
The report says one out of every 54 homes in the United States were involved in some stage of foreclosure during the year, USA Today reported Thursday.
During the year, banks seized 850,000 properties, more than twice the number repossessed in 2007. In December, 303,401 homes were involved in foreclosure proceedings, 17 percent more than in November and 41 percent more than December 2007.
"There was no way we were expecting a near-record month," said Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac senior vice president.
"These filings came despite moratoriums," he said, adding he believed "we're in for a very difficult year."
U.S. homeowners are responding with efforts to find lower rates through refinancing. Currently, 85 percent of all mortgage applications are for refinancing, the Mortgage Bankers Association said
Nevertheless, Sharga told the newspaper January would "be a record-setting month" for foreclosures.