February defaults on loans rise 60%

U. S. home foreclosure filings jumped 60 percent and bank seizures more than doubled in February over the same month the year before as rates on adjustable mortgages rose and property owners were unable to sell or refinance amid falling prices.

The total number of foreclosures in Arkansas was up about 5 percent from February 2007 and almost 19 percent higher than it was in January 2008, RealtyTrac reported.

Rising foreclosures pushed the inventory of existing homes last year to the highest ever, making it more difficult for property owners to sell.

New foreclosures jumped to 0. 83 percent of all home loans in the fourth quarter from 0. 54 percent a year earlier. Late payments rose to a 23-year high, the Mortgage Bankers said in a report.

Borrowers with adjustablerate subprime mortgages accounted for 42 percent of new foreclosures in the fourth quarter, according to the report. Those loans accounted for about 7 percent of all mortgages, the report said. Information in this article was contributed by Alison Vekshin and Bob Ivry of Bloomberg News.

By ALAN MIRABELLA AND SHARON L. LYNCH, NWAnews.com

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