<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Paula Dwyer</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>For 10 months, RealtyTrac, a real-estate database company, has been downplaying declines in home foreclosure rates as illusory. The lower numbers are more likely an indicator of processing delays stemming from October's robo-signing scandal, RealtyTrac kept saying.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>But today's number, showing a 35 percent decline in July from a year earlier -- the lowest level in almost four years -- may have convinced RealtyTrac that the downward trend is more than a paperwork logjam. The processing delays, "combined with the smorgasbord of national and state-level foreclosure prevention efforts," RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said in a statement, "may be allowing more distressed homeowners to stave off foreclosure."&#xA0;</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>Foreclosure activity comes in three flavors: default notices, foreclosure auctions and lender repossessions. One in 611 households got one of those in July, but all three categories declined for the month and on an annual basis. &#x201C;The downward trend in foreclosure activity has now taken on a life of its own,&#x201D; Saccacio said.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>Can it really be that the foreclosure peak is finally behind us? We hate to be a spoiler, but you may want to curb your enthusiasm:&#xA0;Even if&#xA0;foreclosures are&#xA0;declining, that doesn't mean the housing market is about to get better. The shadow inventory of homes that are vacant and held off the market remains formidable.&#xA0;The U.S. Treasury Department in May estimated&#xA0;that it was close to 4 million homes.&#xA0; Home prices, moreover, continue to decline. The S&amp;P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities fell 4.5 percent in May from a year earlier, the biggest 12-month drop since November 2009.</p> </body> </html>