The number of REO properties in Portland is still relatively high despite intensified efforts by Home Affordable Modification Program officials to save troubled homes.

A total of 2,277 homes in metro Portland became distressed in April as they were hit with default and foreclosure notices. In Multnomah County, where Portland is situated, 567 more homes entered foreclosure in March, far above the monthly average of 140 homes getting into foreclosure since 2006.

Statewide, foreclosure activity slowed down, but the 3,813 homes hit with filings in April was still a big percentage of all households in Oregon. One foreclosure was filed for every 427 households during the month, putting Oregon 13th in a ranking of states based on rates of foreclosures.

Of the nearly 4,000 Oregon homes that became distressed in April, a total of 1,387 units were already REO properties, accounting for 36.4 percent of all filings in the state. Mirroring the downward trend of foreclosure activity nationwide, the pace of repossessed homes in Oregon in April dropped by 6.8 percent over the month and dropped by 0.6 percent over the year.

Based on the most recent data from the Treasury Department, efforts to modify troubled loans in Portland intensified, but only 2,346 mortgages were modified under the Home Affordable Modification Program as of the end of April. Many still moved on to lists of Portland repossessed homes and pushed down home price levels.

The median price for homes sold in April dropped by 4 percent over the year to $240,000. Even homes in high-end areas were affected by repossessed property sales, as homes previously listed at $799,000 were being offered for $699,000.

According to some housing advocates, banks are again to blame for the failure of HAMP to cut down substantially the number of repossessed homes in Portland. They said that banks modified mortgages based on stated income and not on verified income. When it was time to review the mortgages for permanent modification, many of the modified mortgages failed, eventually adding homes covered by these mortgages to lists of REO properties.

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