The number of people struggling to pay their mortgages has skyrocketed in the first half of 2007, according to new data released today by RealtyTrac.
During that time period there were 925,986 foreclosure filings -- default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions -- on 573,397 properties nationwide, up more than 30 percent from the previous six-month period and up more than 55 percent from the first six months of 2006.
Foreclosures and the general slowdown in the housing market were key factors in last weeks sell-off on Wall Street.
RealtyTrac, a marketplace for foreclosure properties, said that the foreclosure rate is one filing for every 134 U.S. households for the first half of the year. Properties often have multiple filings as they move through the foreclosure process.
"Despite a slight drop in June, foreclosure activity shows no sign of slowing down," James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac said in a statement. "Based on the rate of foreclosure activity in the first half of 2007, we could easily surpass 2 million foreclosure filings by the end of the year, which would represent a year-over-year increase of over 65 percent."
Many homeowners, particularly those with poor credit, are finding it harder and harder to make mortgage payments. Many of them have variable rate mortgages and are now starting to see those interest payments increase, leading to some of these defaults.
Nevada, Colorado and California had the highest foreclosure rates.
Nevada is No. 1, posting the nation's highest foreclosure rate, with one foreclosure filing for every 40 households during the first half of 2007. Colorado reported one foreclosure filing for every 60 households and California had one for every 69 households, RealtyTrac said.
Other states with foreclosure rates among the Top 10 included Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Connecticut and Indiana.