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Economy & Business

Foreclosure Filings Rise Sharply in Pittsburgh Region During First 3 Months of 2012

Foreclosure activity in the first quarter of 2012 increased in 26 of the nation's 50 largest metro areas, and Pittsburgh led the way.

"We saw a 49% quarterly increase in foreclosure activity in Pittsburgh, up to about 2,300 properties with foreclosure filings in the first quarter, up from about 1,500 in the previous quarter," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, a firm that watches foreclosure data national.

The large jump is due in large part to foreclosure filings, which start the whole process.

"Those were up from the previous quarter in Pittsburgh 180%, so there was a big jump there," said Blomquist.

The increase in new filings is likely due to lenders putting the brakes on foreclosures because some were involved in improper practices. Now, said Blomquist, those once-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation.

But RealSTATs, a company that tracks regional foreclosure data, said many foreclosure filings will not end in the loss of a home. Vice President Daniel Murrer said the fourth quarter of 2011 logged the fewest quarterly home foreclosures in a decade. The first quarter of 2012 represents the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declining home foreclosures in the Pittsburgh region. RealtyTrac data backs that up.

"But, with this big increase at the front end of the foreclosure process, that is probably going to translate into an increase in those complete foreclosures or bank repossessions later this year," said Blomquist.

Both RealtyTrac and RealSTATs agree that the true effect of the uptick in new filings won't be seen until the end of the year.