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NEW YORK

Foreclosure forecast bleak for 2011

NEW YORK | The bleakest year in the foreclosure crisis has only just begun.

Lenders are poised to take back more homes this year than any other since the U.S. housing meltdown began in 2006. About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages, and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in.

“2011 is going to be the peak,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac Inc. The firm predicts 1.2 million homes will be repossessed this year.

The blistering pace of foreclosures this year will top 2010, when a record 1 million homes were lost, RealtyTrac said Thursday.

One in every 45 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing last year, a record 2.9 million of them. That’s up 1.67 percent from 2009.

On Thursday, Freddie Mac reported that fixed mortgage rates dipped this week for the second straight time, extending a sliver of hope for some homeowners.

The average rate on the 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.71 percent from 4.77 percent the previous week. The rate on the 15-year loan, a popular refinance choice, slipped to 4.08 percent from 4.13 percent.

GOP

Pawlenty: U.S. is no new Greece

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says the United States followed Greece into democracy, but should take steps so the country does not follow it into bankruptcy.

In a speech Thursday to start a book tour, the Republican criticized the economic policies of President Obama, who may face a challenge from Mr. Pawlenty in 2012. Mr. Pawlenty says the United States needs to re-examine its economic, education and health care priorities or face grave peril.

Mr. Pawlenty says he has not decided whether he will seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. But his book tour is taking him to Iowa, New Hampshire and Ohio strategic states in a White House run. In strong language that will appeal to Republicans in early nominating states, he says Greece’s economic crisis should be a warning for the United States.

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