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Originally published July 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 10, 2008 at 8:58 PM

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Foreclosure filings up nearly 70% in state

Washington state foreclosures were up 69 percent last month compared with the previous June and up almost 10 percent from May, as the mortgage meltdown continues, despite governmental and private efforts to help struggling homeowners.

Seattle Times business reporter

Washington state foreclosure filings were up 69 percent last month compared with the previous June and up almost 10 percent from May, as the mortgage meltdown continues despite government and private efforts to help struggling homeowners.

The year-over-year jump statewide was worse than the national increase of 50 percent.

The numbers, released today by national foreclosure-information provider RealtyTrac, show that one in every 984 Washington homeowners is in some stage of losing a home.

Still, that's an improvement from earlier this year. In March, one in every 705 households faced foreclosure.

There were 2,742 new filings statewide last month, a 155 percent increase over new filings in June 2005.

Of the three Central Puget Sound counties, foreclosures again hit Pierce County hardest, with one in 483 households in trouble. In Snohomish County, it was one in every 966.

King County fared best, with one household in 1,265 in trouble.

It's important to note that foreclosure is a months-long process, and these numbers are not a true indication of how many owners are losing their homes.

Those behind in payments have the option of bringing them up to date or selling on the open market before the foreclosure process is completed. Many do.

Foreclosures also vary considerably by location. For example, the state's foreclosure hot spots last month were Cowlitz and Clark counties north of Portland, and Adams, Franklin, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Those areas with the fewest were in the state's northeast corner as well as some counties along the Oregon border.

Last month Nevada, California and Arizona — three states that had high rates of risky subprime mortgages during the housing boom — continued to lead the nation in foreclosure actions. Washington ranked 22nd.

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In Washington state, 1 percent of outstanding mortgages were subprime in the fourth quarter 2007, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's most recent national delinquency survey.

By comparison, 10 percent of mortgages in Nevada, the foreclosure leader, were subprime. Last month, one in 99 Las Vegas homeowners was in foreclosure.

On a national level, foreclosures affected one in every 501 households and the worst isn't over, James Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive officer, said in a news release.

"June was the second straight month with more than a quarter million properties nationwide receiving foreclosure filings," Saccacio said. "The year-over-year increase of more than 50 percent indicates we have not yet reached the top of this foreclosure cycle."

Elizabeth Rhodes: erhodes@seattletimes.com

Washington foreclosures
Here's a look at the number of foreclosure filings for the past four Junes:
June 2005 1,077
June 2006 1,440
June 2007 1,646
June 2008 2,742
Source: RealtyTrac

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