US foreclosure crisis becomes more widespread

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Vacant home for sale in Yonkers, New York
Image caption,
Foreclosures increased across a majority of large metropolitan areas

The foreclosure crisis in the US has spread across a wider area of the country, according to RealtyTrac, which monitors repossession activity.

The organisation said foreclosure notices increased across a majority of large metropolitan areas, including Chicago and Seattle.

Previously, these cities had seen relatively low levels of activity.

Separately, Wells Fargo said it would refile documents on 55,000 foreclosures after admitting technical mistakes.

Crisis spreading

RealtyTrac's report said that California, Nevada, Florida and Arizona remained the worst affected areas.

They accounted for 19 of the top 20 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates between July and September.

The trend is the latest sign that the US foreclosure crisis is worsening as homeowners - facing high unemployment, slow job growth and uncertainty about house prices - continue to fall behind on their mortgage payments.

The controversy over whether banks mishandled eviction documents was not a factor over the July-to-September quarter monitored, said RealtyTrac.

Earlier in the week, data from rating agency Standard and Poor's showed that US house prices also began falling again in August, mainly in response to the expired tax credit.

Meanwhile, the announcement from Wells Fargo that it would refile thousands of foreclosure documents is the first admission from the bank of possible problems in the way it repossesses homes.

In a statement released on Thursday, the bank said it had identified "instances where a final step in its processes relating to the execution of the foreclosure affidavits... did not strictly adhere to the required procedures".

It added that it has no plans to halt its foreclosure process but said the refiling might cause some delays.

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