Banks Repossessed A Million Homes Last Year

January 13, 2011

Jacob Goldstein

The robosigning scandal and other issues led to fewer foreclosures in final months of 2010. But banks still repossessed just over a million homes last year, according to a report out today from RealtyTrac.

The number of repossessions is likely to be even higher this year -- about 1.2 million, RealtyTrac's Rick Sharga told me. And banks will continue to repossess homes faster than they can sell them, building up an inventory of unsold homes.

"There are about a million homes in the banks' inventory right now," Sharga said. "It'll probably surpass 1.5 million before it's all said and done."

Foreclosures may finally start to slow down next year. But it will be 2013 before banks sell off their backlog of unsold houses.

As we've noted before, repossessed houses tend to sell at a discount, and this backlog is likely to keep housing prices down.

It's also likely to mean that home construction crews will largely remain idle. Who would want to build new houses that will have to compete with all those foreclosures coming to market? Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.