Sunday, May 8, 2011

Foreclosure activity eased in April

My plan had been not to lead this column with news about foreclosures this week, instead focusing on a more positive indicator or trend in metro Phoenix's real-estate market.

But the foreclosure numbers from April quickly changed my mind. Pre-foreclosures fell to 4,200 last month, their lowest level since December 2007, according to real-estate-research firm Information Market.

In Arizona, pre-foreclosures are notice-of-trustee-sale filings that signal that a lender has started the legal process of taking a home back from a borrower.

In April, foreclosures dropped to 4,500, which is 500 fewer than in March. Foreclosures are legally known as trustee sales.

And the number of active residential notices, or pending foreclosures in metro Phoenix, dropped to 30,790. A year ago, this key market indicator was 30 percent higher.

A few more months of drops in foreclosure activity like April's, and it finally could be safe to say the region's housing market is starting to recover.

- Loan-modification investigation: The Arizona attorney general is asking for a court-ordered injunction to stop two people accused of deceptive loan-modification practices.

The two men, Robert Daniel Hayes and Camerin Charles Hawthorne, offer loan services under the company names Mediation Services and Metropolis Loans, according to the attorney general.

The complaint alleges the men solicited loan-modification customers over the phone and charged them upfront fees of $2,500. A new Arizona law makes it illegal for loan-modification firms to charge fees before trying to modify a mortgage.

The complaint also alleges Mediation Services told customers it was affiliated with CitiMortgage, and they had been preapproved for loan modification.

Attorney General Tom Horne has asked a Maricopa County Superior Court to prohibit the men from continuing the practices.

A hearing for the complaint has been set for May 20.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic May. 3, 2011 07:20 PM

Foreclosure activity eased in April

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