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Lenders "Procrastinating" on Foreclosures to Hide Their Losses

now industry executives are questioning whether delaying foreclosures — a strategy contrary to the industry adage that "the first loss is the best loss" — is about to backfire. With home prices expected to fall as much as 10% further, the refusal to foreclose quickly on and sell distressed homes at inventory-clearing prices may be contributing to the stall of the overall market seen in July sales data. ... Banks have filed fewer notices of default so far this year in California ... than they did 2009 or 2008, according to data gathered by [RadarLogic]. Foreclosure default notices are now at their lowest level since the second quarter of 2007, when the percentage of seriously delinquent loans in the state was one-sixth what it is now. New data from LPS Applied Analytics in Jacksonville, Fla., suggests that the backlog is no longer worsening nationally — but foreclosures are not at the levels needed to clear existing inventory. ... "The industry as a whole got into a panic mode and was worried about all these loans going into foreclosure and driving prices down, so they got all these programs, started Hamp and internal mods and short sales," said John Marecki, vice president of East Coast foreclosure operations for Prommis Solutions ... "Now they're looking at this, how they held off and they're getting to the point where maybe they made a mistake in that realm."

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