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Housing

Foreclosures Up 15 Percent From January 2009

A foreclosure in Tempe. Nick Bastian Tempe, AZ/Flickr hide caption

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Nick Bastian Tempe, AZ/Flickr

The number of foreclosure filings fell 10 percent in January, but surpassed 300,00 for the 11th straight month.

Real estate data firm, RealtyTrac, reports that 315,716 properties received a notice of default, auction or bank seizure — that's one in every 409 households. Foreclosure filings also fell in January of 2009, only to rise months later.

"If history repeats itself we will see a surge in the numbers over the next few months as lenders foreclose on delinquent loans where neither the existing loan modification programs or the new short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure alternatives works," James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive officer, said in the statement.

According to the Treasury Department, only about 66,000 delinquent loans were permanently modified under the Home Affordable Modification Program as of December 31. That has left many homeowners feeling helpless and mortgage officials searching for new techniques to deal with distressed borrowers. The Washington Post reports:

Citigroup, for instance, plans to announce a pilot program on Thursday that would allow delinquent borrowers who don't qualify for or decline mortgage relief the opportunity to stay in their homes without making payments for up to six months before turning over the keys, in return for keeping the property in good condition. The bank estimates that up to 20,000 borrowers in Texas, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio could be eligible

The program is just the latest amid a growing acknowledgment that foreclosure prevention efforts will fail to reach millions of borrowers over the next few years.

"This is a graceful way to move on with their lives instead of being foreclosed on and being evicted from their homes," said Sanjiv Das, chief executive of CitiMortgage.

Nevada continues to have the highest foreclosure rate with one in 95 households receiving a filing in January. Arizona ranks second, with filings for one in 129 households.