Foreclosures: February ties November for highest number of foreclosure filings
Foreclosure filings were reported on 134 properties in Hampton last month.

That's roughly one for every 449 housing units, ranking it 12th among Virginia cities and counties for its foreclosure rate, according to RealtyTrac's latest foreclosure report.

Across the Peninsula, foreclosure filings were reported on 361 properties. That ties November for the highest monthly number recorded.

February's 361 filings are up 18 percent from January and up 57 percent from February 2009.

Nationally, foreclosure filings decreased 2 percent from January but were up 6 percent from February 2009.

" Hampton Roads has typically lagged behind the nation" in foreclosures, said Vinod Agarwal, an Old Dominion University economics professor. "We can foresee that foreclosures will start to stabilize in this area pretty soon. If the national trend is stabilizing, you should see that the local trend is stabilizing."

Foreclosures are expected to remain at historic levels until about May or June, when the economy starts to pick up and the region sees some job growth, Agarwal said.

Nationally, the 6 percent year-over-year increase in February was the smallest annual increase recorded since January 2006, when RealtyTrac began calculating year-over-year increases, James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive officer, said.

"But it still marked the 50th consecutive month of year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity," he said.

"This leveling of the foreclosure trend is not necessarily evidence that fewer homeowners are in distress and at risk for foreclosure, but rather that foreclosure prevention programs, legislation and other processing delays are in effect capping monthly foreclosure activity — albeit at a historically high level that will likely continue for an extended period," he said.

Virginia now ranks 24th among states for its foreclosure rate. It ranked 19th in January.

Locally, South Hampton Roads cities reported higher foreclosure rates than the Peninsula area.

Portsmouth ranked seventh, Chesapeake 10th, Suffolk 13th, Norfolk 16th and Virginia Beach 19th among Virginia cities and counties.

Newport News ranked 20th, and Middlesex County ranked 22nd after 10 foreclosure filings were reported last month.

Follow Veronica Chufo at twitter.com/veronicachufo and read her Hampton Roads real estate blog at dailypress.com/realestateblog.