The Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) reported an acceleration in foreclosure actions during the third quarter as servicers lifted voluntary moratoriums implemented in late 2010 as the robosigning scandal escalated.
In the third quarter, nine OCC-regulated servicers sent foreclosures notices to 350,000 homeowners, up 21% from the prior period, according to the agency's new Mortgage Metrics report.
OCC officials expect the number of foreclosures initiated will stabilize at around 350,000 in the coming quarters.
However, actual foreclosures — where the property is sold — are destined to start rising.
With servicers under great scrutiny as they complete foreclosure sales, an OCC official noted that there is a huge pipeline of 1.3 million loans in the process of foreclosure.
"At some stage, you have so much in the pipeline that we can expect that the number [of foreclosure sales] will start increasing again," the official said.
In the third quarter, the nine servicers completed 172,800 foreclosure sales, short sales and deed-in-lieu transactions, down 4% from the pervious quarter and down 30% from a year ago.
The nine OCC-regulated servicers are: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, HSBC, MetLife Home Loans, PNC Bank, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo & Co., and OneWest Bank. The nine have a servicing market share north of 60%.