By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times
December 15, 2011

Banks in November scheduled more than 26,000 homes to be sold at California foreclosure auctions, a 63% increase from October and a sign that a surge in discounted, bank-owned properties is on track to hit the market next year.

The uptick in scheduled auctions follows an increase last summer in homes entering the foreclosure process by receiving default notices and was largely driven by Bank of America. It appears that many of those homes are now quickly working their way through the process, said Daren Blomquist, a spokesman for RealtyTrac of Irvine, a data tracker that published the November data.

The increase played out nationally, hitting a nine-month high, even as overall foreclosure notices declined last month. Among the states, California had the biggest month-over-month increase in scheduled auctions, followed by Washington, 56%; Ohio, 53%; New Jersey, 44%; and New York, 38%.

“November’s numbers suggest a new set of incoming foreclosure waves, many of which may roll into the market as [foreclosures] or short sales sometime early next year,” said James Saccacio, co-founder and chief executive of RealtyTrac.

Nationally, overall foreclosure filings on U.S. properties — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — totaled 224,394 in November, down 3% from October and off 14% from November 2010. About 1 in 579 homes received a foreclosure filing last month, by RealtyTrac’s tally.

Celia Chen, a housing economist with Moody’s Analytics, said she expected the number of foreclosures on banks’ books to rise next year and for the number of discounted foreclosures on the market to remain elevated. That will continue to put pressure on home prices.

“The pace of sales will remain very slow, so the share of distressed sales is going to rise most likely through the middle of next year, and this will cause home prices to fall,” Chen said. “Job growth is still weak, and then it is still a bit difficult to get those low rates. Lenders, in general, are still being pretty careful about who they write a mortgage for.”

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