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Understanding LI's foreclosure numbers

The Island’s 818 foreclosure-related filings last month accounted for a 23 percent jump from a year earlier, while the nation saw its biggest year-over-year decrease since RealtyTrac began reporting numbers in 2005.

That’s because February 2010 had unusually low numbers here -- 666 foreclosure-related filings, which are new cases, auction notices and lender repossessions. Last winter and spring, the norm was closer to 1,200 and 1,300 cases, RealtyTrac data show.

RealtyTrac and other experts have warned against taking one month’s change too seriously.

RealtyTrac chief executive James J. Saccacio attributed the nationwide low to recent scandals over lenders' foreclosure practices that prompted attorneys general in all 50 states to join together to investigate the practices. Their recommendations and report are due soon.

“While a small part of February’s decrease can be attributed to it being a short month and bad weather, the bottom line is that the industry is in the midst of a major overhaul that has severely restricted its capacity to process foreclosures," Saccacio said. "We expect to see the numbers bounce back, but that will likely take several months."

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