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Marketplace Morning Report
Maps: Housing

Foreclosure rates continue to fall

Stacey Vanek Smith Aug 10, 2011
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A woman, on a foreclosure tour, looks at a foreclosed home on November 21, 2010 in Derby, Conn.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: RealtyTrac said today the number of foreclosures
in July fell to a 44-month low. Foreclosures, of course, have been a drag on the housing market for years. So are things finally turning around?

Here’s Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek Smith reports.


Stacey Vanek Smith: Foreclosures have dropped this year and home prices have started to stabilize, but the bad economic news we’ve seen this week could set things back.

Richard Greene directs the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.

Richard Greene: It does change the game in that if we see unemployment start to go up again and people losing their jobs, then you’ll see foreclosures go up.

Greene says economic uncertainly also could kill demand for home buying, because people don’t like to make major investments in uncertain times.

Housing economist Christopher Thornberg says we’re in for a bumpy rest of the year.

Christopher Thornberg: I don’t think the U.S. market is going to turn around anytime in the near future. The problem there is mainly due to the lack of equity and really only time can fix that.

That equity problem? It’s big. More than a quarter of homeowners in the U.S. owe more on their homes than their homes are worth. For that to change, Thornberg says foreclosures have to slow and employment has to pick up.

In New York, I’m Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace.

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