U.S. home foreclosures fell in October as banks put a freeze on auctions of homes in default to review loan documents in wake of a recent "robo-signing" controversy.
Foreclosure filings of all types - including default notices and scheduled auctions - dropped 4.4% during the month, according to a report by RealtyTrac released Thursday. Bank repossessions, the filing most affected by the review, fell 8.7%.
One in every 389 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month.
Banks had temporarily halted auctions of homes with mortgages in default to make sure all the documents were properly signed - not robo-signed - and that all the paperwork was in order. For more on robo-signing, see story.
"The numbers probably would have been higher except for the fallout from the recent robo-signing controversy," said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac's CEO.
The drop in repossessions comes after increases in four of the six previous months, topped by an all-time high in September - when 102,000 people lost their homes. In October, 93,246 homes were repossessed.
Saccacio says it may take several months before overall foreclosure rates actually improve - meaning fewer people are losing their homes rather than a temporary boost because of the robo-signing freeze.
There is still a large backlog of borrowers who stopped paying their mortgages long ago but who have not yet been served with a single foreclosure filing and so are not being counted in RealtyTrac's statistics.