Pa. new foreclosure filings leap 129% from 2011

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States that process home foreclosures through the courts, including Pennsylvania, experienced an increase in filings in August over July's levels, RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosures nationwide, reported Thursday.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth dropped by 600,000 at the end of the second quarter, according to real estate data provider CoreLogic.

Nationally, the foreclosure-filing rate rose 1 percent from July to August but was down 15 percent from August 2011, RealtyTrac said.

Yet in judicial-foreclosure states, "deferred activity boiled over," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. "This was a continuation of a trend we've been seeing for several months now."

Twenty states registered year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity.

In Pennsylvania, new foreclosures increased 129 percent from August 2011. On the distressed-housing list of 50 states, it was ranked 27.

Filings were below the national average of one in 681 houses, with Pennsylvania at one in 1,194.

Sales of houses repossessed by banks through foreclosure fell in most states. Pennsylvania had 43 percent fewer sales in August than in 2011.

Recently, many lenders have been trying to avoid the expensive and lengthy foreclosure process by making short sales, those in which banks accept prices less than what is owed on the mortgages.

RealtyTrac data show short sales in the first quarter at a three-year high, and 25 percent above levels for the same three months of 2011.

CoreLogic said 10.8 million, or 22.3 percent, of all residential properties with mortgages were underwater at the end of the second quarter, down from 11.4 million properties, or 23.7 percent, at the end of the first quarter.

Most of those borrowers are continuing to pay their mortgages, however -- 84.9 percent, CoreLogic said.

"The level of negative equity continues to improve, with more than 1.3 million households regaining a positive-equity position since the beginning of the year," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said: "We currently expect home prices to continue to trend up in August."

"Were this trend to be sustained, we could see significant reductions in the number of borrowers in negative equity by next year," he said.

By Michael Liedtke

SAN FRANCISCO -- As I played around with the iPhone 5, I wondered what the late Steve Jobs would have thought about the latest twist on Apple's best-selling device.

It didn't take long to conclude he would have been delighted with the iPhone 5's blend of beauty, utility and versatility.

Add in the more advanced technology and new features that went into this iPhone, and it's clear Apple has come up with another product that will compel hordes of people to line up outside its stores before its Sept. 21 release in the U.S., Japan, Britain, Germany, France and four other countries. The mad dash to buy the iPhone 5 will be repeated again on Sept. 28 when it goes on sale in 22 other countries.

All the models of the iPhone 5 will sell for the same prices as its predecessor, starting at $199 with a two-year data and calling plan.

An important caveat about these impressions: I was only allotted about 15 minutes with the iPhone 5 at Wednesday's launch event, not enough time to discover if it might have some technological bugs.

For many people, the iPhone is going to be a case of love at first touch. It's incredibly light and seems to be easier to hold. That means it might not be dropped as frequently as previous iPhones, reducing the chances of the glass on the display screen getting damaged.

One woman who also was testing out an iPhone 5 couldn't stop raving about how ideal the new design was for people with smaller hands. "All the other iPhones were made with men in mind because they could easily slip from your grasp if you didn't have big hands," she said. "Now we finally have an iPhone for women."

The new iPhone also is easy on the eyes, thanks to a larger screen and its "Retina Display," the high-definition technology that Apple introduced in previous models. Video and photos look even more lush on the iPhone 5's bigger and better screen.

At 4 inches diagonally, the iPhone 5's screen is a half-inch larger than previous generations. On the more prosaic side of things, the extra space means you can now see five rows of apps on the home screen instead of the previous limit of four rows. Open the calendar and you can see five days of events on the screen in horizontal mode, instead of just three.

The larger screen really comes to life, though, with what is perhaps its coolest feature -- a tool called "Panorama" that automatically stitches together a series of pictures into a majestic vista. Panorama can be turned on simply by going into the iPhone 5's camera mode and then selecting it on an option menu. Once it's activated, an arrow guides you as you slowly pan the camera around whatever scenery you desire (if you move too fast, Panorama tells you to slow down and also advises you if you are moving the camera too high or low). Once you are done, you can look at the panoramic shot within seconds and zoom into whichever areas of the picture look most interesting.

Not surprisingly, watching video on the larger screen is also more pleasurable, although I still think the iPad and other tablet computers are a much better way to watch movies and TV shows on the go.

The device is also speedier because of a more powerful processing chip and

homes - businessnews

Alan J. Heavens: 215-854-2472 or aheavens@phillynews.com


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