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Are Maryland's foreclosures really increasing?

A large increase in the number of home foreclosures in Maryland has resulted in the D.C.-area state receiving a higher rank on the national scale. Official reports from the online foreclosure tracking group RealtyTrac show that the state is now third in the nation in foreclosure rankings after a substantial increase in foreclosure activity in October. Still, officials throughout the state say that the change in rank is not so bad, as the numbers only tell a limited part of the story.

Maryland has been reporting rises in foreclosure activity for more than a year; analysis shows that more than twice as many foreclosures were completed in October 2013 as in the same month in 2012.

In fact, these may not be new foreclosures that are being reported, but some of the most sluggish foreclosures still related to the national bank "robo-signing" scandal. Some of the foreclosures had been previously filed, dismissed and are now on the docket again, so they are masquerading as new filings. As a result, Maryland's numbers look decidedly skewed, with these overdue foreclosures finally resolved in the state's courts.

In recent months, however, the state has responded by notifying residents that scores of homeowners have been able to avoid foreclosure because of government intervention. When data is further analyzed, it becomes obvious that the state should have a lower nationwide rank, as its rate of foreclosure sales is actually quite low compared to the number of active home loans. In fact, the state ranks 15th best in the nation on that ratio measure, eclipsing the performance of regional neighbors including Virginia.

Even though it seems that Maryland is struggling under the weight of a mass of foreclosures, residents should see a light at the end of the tunnel. New foreclosure filings are dropping, and Marylanders are finally getting back to a normal economic status. Further, those who are in danger of foreclosure can enjoy access to additional legal and financial resources through the state. Despite the numbers, the outlook looks sunny for Marylanders' financial futures.

Source: www.bizjournals.com, "Officials launch offensive to debunk foreclosure data that ranks Maryland third-worst in the U.S." Kevin Litten, Nov. 14, 2013

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