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Home foreclosures leap in March

| Thursday, April 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Total home foreclosure filings jumped in the Pittsburgh region in March, especially default notices to residents behind on their mortgage payments.

A report from RealtyTrac Inc. of Irvine, Calif., showed 920 foreclosure filings — from default notices to sheriff's sales — in the seven-county region in March. That was 67 percent more than in February and 55 percent more than in February 2012.

Experts say the increase in foreclosure activity could represent filings pent up from a year ago, when 13 major banks suspended foreclosure activity pending the final outcome of a settlement with regulators that accused the banks of improperly foreclosing on homeowners.

The banks, which included Pittsburgh's PNC Financial Services Group, arrived at a settlement in early 2012. Checks totaling $3.6 billion will be sent to some 4.2 million people this week.

PNC is paying out $69.4 million, said the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, but the number of recipients was not available.

“We haven't seen any dramatic increase in unemployment around here, which would account for more filings,” said Greg Simmons, development compliance specialist and a foreclosure expert at Action-Housing Inc., a housing services agency Downtown.

“What you're seeing is some fallout from mortgage companies and loan servicers, which were restrained from foreclosing last year,” said Simmons.

Default notices in the Pittsburgh region increased to 359 in March, roughly double those in February (163), and up 36 percent from March 2012 (263).

The total number of home foreclosure filings nationally in March dipped 1.2 percent to 152,500 from 154,281 in February. They dropped 23 percent from 198,853 filings in March 2012.

Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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