For sale signs are posted in front of homes in Richmond, Calif.
For sale signs are posted in front of homes in Richmond, Calif. - 
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Steve Chiotakis: Which came first, the tanking economy or the housing slump? Whatever the answer, analysts say the economy won't get better until people start buying and selling homes. Or better yet, don't get thrown out. And that's where we have some good news. Sort of. Foreclosures were down in November, with some caveats. Here's Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson.

Jeremy Hobson: RealtyTrac's survey found foreclosure filings dropped 7 percent last month. But don't get your hopes up -- the firm's Senior Vice President Rich Sharga says foreclosures are still up 28 percent from a year ago.

Rich Sharga: If we were talking about a medical condition, I think we'd have to refer to this as a false positive.

Sharga says the drop in November is because of action by states to freeze foreclosures.
And similar moves by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Sharga: But if you can't afford your monthly mortgage payment in December and nothing changes on that mortgage, you're still not going to be able to afford it in January or February, when these moratoriums are over.

The states with the highest rates of foreclosure remain those big sunbelt states: California, Arizona, Florida and Nevada. In that state, 1 in every 76 homes is in foreclosure.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson