The Good And The Bad In July's Foreclosure Report

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RealtyTrac, a firm that follows foreclosure filings, reports that foreclosure activity was up in July. But that's still an improvement over last year's numbers, highlighting the two-faced nature of this report.

The foreclosure report points in one direction but look at it another way, the view changes. i

The July foreclosure report is like a fun house mirror. Look at it one way, and you see one thing; look another way, and the image changes. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com
The foreclosure report points in one direction but look at it another way, the view changes.

The July foreclosure report is like a fun house mirror. Look at it one way, and you see one thing; look another way, and the image changes.

iStockphoto.com

It's a bit like a fun house mirror. Look at it one way, and you see one thing — look at it another way, and the image changes entirely.

On one side, the number of homes taken back by banks reached the second-highest monthly total since the start of the foreclosure crisis — more than 90,000 homes repossessed in just one month. But on the other side, the number of homes in the early stages of foreclosure is down — more than 30 percent from the peak early last year.

"The default notices, the scheduled auctions — those are at least decreasing on a year-over-year basis," says Celia Chen, who covers housing markets for Moody's Analytics.

"That means we're working through the problem," Chen adds. "We're going to feel the pain for a little bit longer, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel."

But others see things differently.

"We need to be quite cautious in breathing a sigh of relief," says Marietta Rodriguez of NeighborWorks America, a housing counseling organization.

She says unemployment continues to be a problem, pushing homeowners over the edge. And there's a new crop of loans that will reset in the next year — making the payments harder to handle.

"On the ground, our counselors are telling us they're seeing more and more consumers, more and more borrowers seeking help — that their numbers are not decreasing," Rodriguez adds.

And pretty much everyone agrees that the only way those numbers are going to start falling is for the jobs picture to improve — a lot.

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