More US homes facing foreclosure risk in June

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by Laura Matovina

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Banks are increasingly placing homes with unpaid mortgages on a countdown that could deliver a swell of new foreclosed properties onto the market by early next year, potentially weighing further on home values.

June provided the latest evidence of this trend.

The foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. says the number of U.S. homes entering the foreclosure process for the first time increased on an annual basis for the second month in a row.

California in particular saw a big spike in foreclosure starts, or homes placed on the foreclosure path for the first time. The firm says they increased 18 percent versus June last year.

According to Fitch Ratings, lenders initiated foreclosure on 12 percent of the loans behind in payment in June -- the highest level since the first half of 2009.

There are some 3 million U.S. homes behind on their mortgages, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

An additional 629,000 homes were on banks' books as of June, but not yet sold. That translates into a 15-month supply, at the current pace of sales, according to RealtyTrac.

And nearly 13 million home loans are underwater, or owing more than the house is worth. Those properties could be at higher risk for entering the foreclosure process.

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