LOS ANGELES – Lenders took possession of fewer U.S. homes in 2012 than a year earlier, as the pace of new homes entering the path to foreclosure slowed and banks increasingly opted to allow troubled borrowers to sell their homes for less than what they owed on their mortgage.
All told, banks repossessed 671,251 homes last year, down nearly 17 percent from 804,423 the year before, according to data released today by foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc.
The trend, along with an annual decline in overall foreclosure activity, suggests that the country’s foreclosure woes are easing, at least on a national level.
But half the states experienced higher levels of foreclosure activity last year and many are expected to continue seeing increases this year, RealtyTrac said.
All told, foreclosure activity, defined as the number of homes that received at least one foreclosure-related filing, declined 3 percent last year. That translates to 1.8 million U.S. homes, and represents a drop of 36 percent from a peak of 2.9 million homes in 2010, the firm said.
Treasury selling remaining GM stake
DETROIT – The U.S. Treasury Department has hired JPMorgan Securities and Citigroup Global Markets to sell its remaining stake in General Motors and bring an end to almost four years of partial government ownership of the car maker.
The government, which got its stake in a $49.5 billion bailout of the company in 2009, still holds 300 million shares of GM common stock, giving it 19 percent of the auto giant.
The banks will get 1 cent for every share they sell for a fee of up to $3 million.
The documents gave no timetable for sale of the remaining shares, but the government has said it intends to be out of GM by early next year.
GM nearly ran out of cash in 2008 and needed government money to survive a trip through bankruptcy reorganization. Since then, GM has posted 11 straight quarters of profits, piling up $16 billion in net income.
• EBay earned $757 million, or 57 cents per share, during the final three months of last year. That represented a 62 percent decrease from net income of $2 billion, or $1.51 per share, at the same time in 2011. The 2011 numbers were inflated by a windfall from eBay’s $8.5 billion sale of online communications service Skype to Microsoft Corp.
• Wendy’s net income jumped to $22.4 million, or 6 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 30. That’s up sharply from $4 million, or 1 cent per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased 2 percent to $629.9 million from $615 million. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected adjusted earnings of 4 cents per share on revenue of $637 million.