Foreclosure filings exceeded 300,000 for the sixth straight month in August, RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
A total of 358,471 properties received a default or auction notice or were seized last month, the Irvine, Calif., data provider said. This was up 18% from a year earlier but down 0.5% from July. One in 357 households received a filing.
The rise in unemployment is having a bigger impact than an effort by the federal government and banks to modify mortgages and prevent foreclosures, said Morris A. Davis, an assistant real estate professor at the Wisconsin School of Business.
"The foreclosure numbers are largely unemployment-related," said Davis, a former Federal Reserve Board economist. "As long as 15 million Americans are unemployed, record foreclosures will continue."
Foreclosures are not abating even as demand returns to the housing market after a three-year slump. The number of contracts to buy previously owned homes rose more than forecast in July and increased for a record sixth consecutive month, and Freddie Mac said the average house price rose 1.7 % in the second quarter.
RealtyTrac said Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in August, with one in every 62 households getting a filing, despite an 8.4% decline in foreclosures from July.
August filings were up 53% from a year earlier; 17,902 Nevada properties receiving a foreclosure filing.
The second-highest foreclosure rate last month was in Florida, where one in every 140 households got a filing; California was No. 3, with one in 144 households receiving a foreclosure filing.
A 9.6% month-to-month decline in filings helped reduce Arizona's foreclosure rate to fourth-highest, from third-highest in July, RealtyTrac said. One in every 150 Arizona households got a foreclosure filing last month, still more than twice the national average, the company said.
Though loan modifications may prevent some foreclosures, many homeowners facing repossession have prime loans and cannot make their payments because of job losses, said Richard K. Green, the director of the University of Southern California's Lusk Center for Real Estate.
"When people live in a housing market that's dropped 30% or 40%, and they lose their jobs, that's a recipe for default," Green said.
In the RealtyTrac survey, Michigan, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Georgia and Illinois were the other states in the top 10 of foreclosure filing rates. Six states accounted for 62% of the nation's foreclosure filings.
New Jersey had the 11th-highest rate, with 8,316 filings, a 28% increase from a year earlier. Connecticut ranked 24th, with 2,189 filings, a 22% increase. New York had the 39th-highest rate, with 5,350 filings, down 2.3%.
Las Vegas had the highest foreclosure rate among metropolitan areas with populations of 200,000 or more. One in every 53 Las Vegas households got a notice in August, up 48% from a year earlier and down 11% from July. Also in Nevada, the Reno-Sparks area had the seventh-highest foreclosure rate, with one in 86 households receiving a filing, RealtyTrac said.
California had six metropolitan areas among the top 10.
Stockton and Merced ranked second and third; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Vallejo-Fairfield and Modesto were fourth through sixth; and Bakersfield was 10th. Two Florida metropolitan areas were in the top 10 — Orlando-Kissimmee at No. 8 and Cape Coral-Fort Myers at No. 9.