Foreclosure activity in the county last month continued to rise. Nearly twice as many notices of default were issued last month than at the beginning of the year. September’s 966 NODs compare to 536 in January and 402 from last September, new data from e-foreclosuresdata.com show. (The operating company of that website is the County Records Service.)

Lots of industry folks say not to worry about those NOD numbers – they just mean people have missed at least one loan payment and might be able to pull their funds together to hang on to their house.

Those pros often tell me the really important numbers are the number of properties actually repossessed by the lender and become either a trustee sale (where you can bid on the home in an auction) or an REO (real-estate-owned, where the lender usually hires a real estate agent to sell your home).

Those haven’t fared so well in recent months.

September’s 403 trustee sales were more than double the 122 such sales last year.

For REOs: There were zero in January 2005 and four in September 2005. But that rate increased nearly 5,000 percent to last month’s 198.

“The negative-am ARMs are catching up,” said Phyllis Ingraham of e-foreclosuresdata.com. She referred to the exotic mortgages that allow homeowners to make low payments initially, but eventually bump up to substantially higher monthly bills. Read this for more about these loans.

“You either hang on and make the payments to ride this through, which is what a lot of people in the other downturns did, or if you can’t afford it you go into default,” Ingraham said. “It could be several hundred more a month.”

KELLY BENNETT

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