While we have paid close attention to rates, fraud, and "The Housing Bubble" all is not necessarily well in other parts of the mortgage world. According to RealtyTrac, a foreclosure online site out of Irvine, California, there has been a 25 percent increase in foreclosure activity in the last year. The site's Foreclosure Market Report states the nearly 850,000 properties entered some state of foreclosure last year - up 25 percent from the previous year. These figures are based on a database of over 1/2 million properties in 2000 counties nationwide.

"Overall, U.S. foreclosure numbers climbed steadily over the course of the year, with more new foreclosures reported in every quarter," according to James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive officer. "This trend appears to be moving the real estate foreclosure market back to its historic levels." Florida led the country and accounted for more than 14% of new foreclosures last year, in spite of a 29% decrease in new foreclosures in the state from the beginning of the year to the fourth quarter.

Perhaps the last part of the paragraph is the good news.

Gulf Coast - A Disaster Waiting To Happen?

And, related to the above news story, a "flood" of mortgage defaults can be expected in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast region now that 90-day grace periods extended by many lenders have expired. This is according to Foreclosures.com, a Fair Oaks, California-based investment advisory firm. Alexis McGee, its president said work-out solutions to avoid defaults were available on a case-by-case basis, but that they had to be negotiated before Dec. 1.

She warned that scam artists are a threat to homeowners in the region. "Crooked adjusters are urging people to file bogus insurance claims (in order to collect) a share of the proceeds," Ms. McGee said. "Inexperienced and unlicensed contractors are preying on people with damaged homes, demanding money up front and then disappearing without doing the work."

This information was posted in late December and we have been unable to find any updates. However, news stories posted by the conventional media out of the Gulf region regarding the difficulties being encountered by storm victims in collecting any portion of insurance proceeds or assistance from FEMA would suggest that things have not improved.