New foreclosure numbers show hope for housing

Josephine Graham
CBS News

(CBS News) A new report today showed that foreclosures had dropped 16 percent from this time last year. Good news except for one state which still leads the nation in foreclosures.

Seventy-three-year-old Josephine Graham's Florida house is in foreclosure.

Josephine Graham CBS News

"It's not much. But it's mine," said Graham.

It may not be hers much longer though.

"My whole life since 1990 has been in this place," she says.

But Graham, a home healthcare worker, fell behind in her payments after two hurricanes damaged her home and the recession let to a cut back in her work hours.

Her house is now valued at $80,000, but Graham owes more than twice that amount.

"I would like to be in this house, but if they come, my car is big enough for me to move into," said Graham.

Slowly the foreclosure picture across America is improving. The 180,000 foreclosure filings reported in September are nearly half of the more than 350,000 filings reported at the peak of the housing crisis in March of 2010. Darren Blomquist of Realty Trac says the end is now in sight.

"I think like 2014 is the first year we can expect to see the numbers return to anything close to normal," said Blomquist.

Another encouraging sign comes from homeowners who are refinancing this year. Eighty-one percent are getting new loans at the same or lower rates. In 2006, 88 percent of homeowners were refinancing their homes to get bigger loans with much higher balances to pay off. The new numbers suggest that homeowners are paying down their debt.

But millions, like Josephine Graham, are still struggling.

"I keep hoping I win the lottery. But that's a dream," said Graham. "I keep hoping money would come from somewhere, but that's a dream. I wish the mortgage people would drop dead, but that's a dream."

Realty Trac estimates that 12 million homeowners are still "under water", meaning they owe more than their home is worth.

  • Anthony Mason
    Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"