The onslaught of homes facing foreclosures has yet to ebb, a research report showed Tuesday, with bank repossessions skyrocketing last month as more troubled homeowners mailed in their keys and walked away.
And the worst isn't over: the wave of adjustable-rate loans resetting to higher rates will crest in May and June. And that's expected to push more homeowners into default and foreclosure in the third and fourth quarters of this year, according to RealtyTrac Inc. of Irvine, Calif.
"Once we're through that batch of loans, the worst will have been worked through the system," said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac's vice president of marketing.
The number of U.S. homes receiving at least one foreclosure filing jumped 57 percent in March to 234,685, compared with 149,150 properties a year earlier. Filings include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions.
The overall foreclosure rate is 5 percent higher than in February, which saw an unexpected month-to-month decline over January. March marked the 27th consecutive month of year-over-year increases in national foreclosure filings.
That meant one in every 538 households received a filing during the month. Forty-four percent were households that slipped into default for the first time and more than a fifth were homes banks took back.