Foreclosures Spike to Highest in Five Years

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Foreclosures have hit record numbers in the first three months of the year.

RealtyTrac Inc. says the number of U.S. homes taken over by banks jumped 35 percent in the first quarter from a year ago. And households facing foreclosure have grown 16 percent in the same period.

Banks have taken over more homes, and more houses are scheduled for foreclosure sale than in any quarter going back at least to January 2005. That's when RealtyTrac began reporting the data, the firm said.

Foreclosures began to ease last year as the Obama administration pressured banks to modify home loans for troubled borrowers. Some states enacted foreclosure moratoriums to give homeowners time to catch up on their payments.

These factors have helped slow the pace of foreclosures, but now that trend appears to be reversing.

The news comes alongside an updated jobless claims number that has risen for the second week in a row.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that first-time requests for jobless benefits rose by 24,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 484,000, the highest level since late February. Economists had predicted claims would fall.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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